Minnesota has 4 seasons, but none is normal

Published 10:35 am Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It was so hot, I turned on the furnace to cool the house.

I began writing this in front of an open refrigerator.

I was going to write about the secret diaries of Al and Tipper Gore.

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I’d found their journals in a box of books I had purchased from the New Richland Historical Society. The reasons for Al and Tipper’s divorce were all right there in black and white. It was incredible. It was column gold.

I hadn’t been so excited since they built the car wash close enough to my home that I could walk to it.

I was going to write about the Gore split, but I misplaced the diaries. I think I gave them to the New Richland Historical Society for their upcoming book sale.

So I’m going to write about summer instead.

We pack up spring and store it for another year on June 21. We don helmets, strike up the band, and let summer begin.

Summer is the time to take down the Christmas lights.

Spring melts into summer. We get the winter, spring, summer, fall progression in Minnesota, but not necessarily in that order. We have no idea what an average season is like because we’ve never had one. Minnesota marches to the beat of its own drummer and that includes its summer drummer.

What is as rare as a summer’s day? That would be a public gathering where no one’s cell phone goes off at an inappropriate time.

Summer is that time of year when we see signs like, “School’s out — watch out for teachers!” When colds and flu are replaced by contagious yawning on hot and humid days.

Summer is when kids slam the doors they left open during the winter. It’s a time for those who enjoy the growing more than the harvest. Zucchini has not yet worn out its welcome and sweet corn has not yet fulfilled its promise.

Summer is a few months of bad sledding. The weather can be severe. Oscar Hammerstein wrote the lyrics, “As restless as a willow in a windstorm.” Summer showers do much more than any tornado, but they get less publicity. Summer can be a period when rain is so rare it is kept in a museum or so plentiful that it douses fireflies. Fireflies create a magic fairyland that lights up our nights.

Tornadoes, mosquitoes, black flies, deer flies, heat, and humidity. Each circus brings its own clowns. Deer flies chase me down the trail. I run as they attack from behind. Suddenly, I turn and run back up the trail and head butt the annoying insects. Revenge isn’t always a dish best served cold. We have mosquitoes big enough to cast shadows. They are so large that we catch them in mousetraps. My neighbor Worrying Elmer is on crutches, after being dropped by a mosquito. That caused Worrying Elmer to wonder aloud what mosquitoes were feeding on before he got here.

A hot, humid day can make a person apathetic. It’s difficult to fight the apathy if you just don’t care. I asked my neighbor Still Bill, he is so lazy he came in last in a snail marathon, if he had ever been in a tornado. His reply was, “Not that I noticed.”

The Gershwin Lullaby goes like this, “Summertime, and the living is easy. Fish are jumping, and the cotton is high. Your daddy’s rich, and your ma is good looking. So hush little baby, don’t you cry.” I have rejoiced in the uncommon sighting of a summer tanager — the only bird with summer in its name. I’ve started an insect collection from the grill of a car. I’ve celebrated the end of the school year. I’ve winced while receiving my summer haircut. This was a widespread misery inflicted upon boys at the end of each school year. The buzzcuts were so short that we became hairing impaired. Some were haircuts and some were scalping.

My neighbor Gladys Summer loves our hottest season. She detests the cold. I once asked her what she liked to do in Minnesota during the winter. Her answer was short and to the point, “Leave.”

We get hot temperatures in summer because each winter, people wish it would warm up. There are so many wishes made that they warm the weather by summer. Weather is like government. It takes time to change.

Summer weather can be so hot that the squirrels unbutton their fur coats. I like summer but it’s an air conditional love. Air conditioning means the survival of the coolest.

Meteorologists attempt to predict our weather. They try to call summer, but it is a futile endeavor. Summer won’t talk to them.

Summer has fall waiting.

Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Sunday and Wednesday.