Walsh’s Wonderings — Winter bodies in summer clothes

Robert F. Walsh

It’s upon us, people, so don’t say you haven’t been warned. We’re officially in that seasonal purgatory where temperatures dance between freezing and “Do I really need a jacket?” With spring’s arrival come the pale, winter-ravaged legs freed from the tyranny of pants and paraded in shorts like bleached pasta.

The change of seasons in New England highlights the absurd inconsistency in our approach to outside temperatures. A 55-degree day in spring is often cause for t-shirts and flip flops. A 55-degree day in October is a call for thermal underwear, winter jackets, and a run on bread and milk at the grocery store. It’s proof that everything is relative, and it’s what makes living here so satisfying. We experience all four seasons in their totality, welcoming each change in the weather as one would an old friend. Some of these friends just require more maintenance or the occasional snow chains. Floridians view temperatures in the 50’s as a sign of the Apocalypse, while there are places in Maine for whom summer is nothing but a distant rumor.

In Connecticut, the first sunny day devoid of arctic winds acts like that little pop-up turkey timer to let us know spring has sprung. Hot chocolate is no longer a socially-acceptable option at a restaurant.

By the same token, the arrival of 50-degree temps in October is a call to arms. Well, to cover arms. And legs. And ears, hands, and necks. Suddenly, everyone’s racing to bring in the patio furniture and batten down the hatches (assuming your hatches need battening). It’s an official Season of Mourning for boat owners everywhere. It’s when we can officially separate the Fearless (those determined to ride their motorcycles on the ice and snow all season) from the Feckless (those with the expensive leather jackets and poor turning radius who shouldn’t ride their motorcycle in a mist). Barbeque grills are shrouded in tarps and forgotten until baseball’s Opening Day.

New Englanders require larger closets, the results of each seasonal change forcing us to switch out our wardrobe to match the climate. While I have students in my classroom who are winter denialists (clad only in shorts and t-shirt, they knock the snow off their shoes in an unwitting display of irony), most of us adhere to the unwritten social contract regarding fashion. Will we be the person wearing white pants on Columbus Day or the one wearing mittens on Easter Sunday? Some clothes wear out their welcome and need to be put out to pasture. (Put the Crocs away, for Heaven’s sake. We’ve all had enough.)

With temperatures sneaking into the 60’s this week, we can no longer avoid that spring cleaning we put off as summer ended. The buds peeking out of the ground herald a season of renewal, not to mention the return of the migratory grackles and blackbirds that cover our trees and telephone polls like so many excited schoolchildren. Speaking of schoolchildren, some will plague roads across Connecticut by heedlessly darting in and out of traffic with their bikes like so many grackles.

Keep an eye out for all of them. Just remember to shield your eyes until June whenever you notice people walking around in shorts; not everything about spring is pretty.

You can read more at RobertFWalsh.com, contact him at RobertFWalshMail@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @RobertFWalsh.

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