Monday, July 13, 2009
summer is winter
Here in the Lone Star State, we don't play well with others. We run on our own schedule. Even the weather. I thought it might be helpful to provide a seasonal guide to Texas weather, for those not in the know.
SPRING: Begins in late February or early March, and lasts until the end of April. Temperatures range from somewhere in the sixties to somewhere in the eighties, and humidity is a constant 200% (or you'd swear it was, anyway). No longer cold enough for supplemental heat, but technically not hot enough for air conditioning. You run the A/C anyway to keep from feeling like you live in an actual swamp. Bread molds, produce spoils and metals rust in a matter of hours - you can almost watch it occur. Rain is continuous, non-stop and without end. Barns and chicken coops do not get cleaned out during this time and nothing gets built or mended. Your garden had best be planted by now.
PRE-SUMMER: A roughly two- week period around late April or early May when it clears up, dries up and the weather is gorgeous. What most normal people think of as spring, only a bit warmer. You cram as much outdoor activity as you can possibly manage into this time. Hurry and clean the barn NOW. Put up fencing NOW. Make building repairs and start your spring chicks NOW. Your garden got swamped out but is now enjoying the sunshine and growing like gangbusters. Don't get used to it, though, because you're about to head into...
SUMMER: Lasts for five solid months, from May through September. If you can picture a line graph of summer temperatures, you'd probably imagine it as a gentle hill, with the top of the hill somewhere around mid to late July. Our temperature graph would resemble a mesa. Temperatures rise to the vicinity of 100 degrees and park. Wind takes a holiday and it becomes deathly still. After about mid-June, any outdoor labor becomes impossible. Around mid-July, being outdoors at all becomes nearly impossible except after dark. Since we enjoy roughly fourteen hours of daylight this time of year, it is difficult to be outside for any reason before, say, 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. Even darkness doesn't offer much relief, since it manages to remain in the eighties or nineties even after the sun goes down. The garden has tanked. Despite nearly constant watering, everything is shriveled and brown. The animals barely move and sit around in the shade with their mouths open. You do pretty much the same. Summer, then, effectively becomes winter. It is the time to do all the things you've neglected indoors. Organize closets, work on that sewing project, catch up on reading. Movies are extremely popular in summer since theaters are routinely chilled down to about 40 degrees. You find yourself showering multiple times a day. A regular supply of ice is essential.
PRE-FALL: The time of year every Texan anxiously awaits. The first few weeks of October bring the very best weather of the year. Temperatures become civilized. Sunshine and mild days will reign. Nights will be cool and crisp. It is positively glorious. Again, you attempt to spend as much time outside as possible, although unlike in Pre-Summer, this time is usually spent on leisure. In an average year, Pre-Fall will last about three weeks or so. In a really good year, it will last through Thanksgiving. Enjoy this time. Do not even think of doing chores.
FALL: Much like spring for the rest of the country. Mostly cool temperatures, but there will be some days in the upper eighties, and some in the forties. There will not be snow to speak of. There might be ice, but only on Thanksgiving day, since nature knows that you probably have to drive somewhere that day. Fall lasts from the end of October all the way through December. Christmas day is sunny and sixty degrees, without exception, even if it was thirty degrees with snow flurries the night before.
WINTER: Our productive time. Winter consists of the month of January, and the first part of February. There might be light snow, and there will be cold, wet, windy days, but most days will be clear and mild, with temperatures in the 50's and often 60's. It is ideal for working outdoors. Or rather it would be, if the wind didn't blow at a constant 30 miles per hour. This is something to which you simply become accustomed. It is NEVER advisable to change animal bedding on a windy day (ask me how I know). Now is the time to be planning and planting your garden, but carefully - the seeds may blow right out of your hand. You'll need to hurry, too. Pretty soon it will be raining again.