September, 2011

Rain, Rain – Welcome Back!

Editorial Comments
by Deborah Steele Hazen

I have a rare form of Seasonally Affected Disorder (SAD). Gray skies don’t make me “sad,” too much bright sunlight makes me cranky!

Oh sure, I can imagine the derisive sneers out there from you sun lovers. But I am not the only one with this condition.

When I wrote a “Trident”  a few years ago on the topic of “enough sun, already,” as the miserably bright, hot, 80 and 90 degree days dragged on through September, a woman I had known for years – but, not well – came up to me and thanked me. She suffers from the same condition. We’ve been bonded like fond sisters ever since.

Sometimes I pretend for purposes of expediency, that I’m one of the majority. Last week, on a day when the hot unrelenting sunshine was occasionally relieved by a patch of clouds, I passed an acquaintance out on his daily walk. “It (the weather) can’t seem to decide whether it’s going to be nice or not today,” I said, deceptively.

“If I wanted to live in a hot climate, I’d move to Arizona!” he quipped.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. And, I admired his courage – unhesitatingly declaring his cloudy, cool preference despite the risk of ridicule.

So, where are the support groups for cloudy, cool people? Where is the recognition as a minority group? Where is the disability pay?!?

I am disabled by over-exposure to sunlight because my unfashionably fair skin burns. Virtually everyone in my family gets skin cancer at some time in their life. Fortunately, it’s mainly the easily-cut-out kind. Even if I’m not sunburned, my face turns beet red after moderate exercise on hot days, and I sweat. I don’t like to be sweaty.

If it’s hot, I have to dress in fewer clothes than is preferable for women of a certain age. I passed that age about 10 years ago.

I have longed for the days that are cool enough to cover my fat sleeveless arms with jackets. I love cashmere and suede, velvet and wool, corduroy and fleece. These are not hot weather fabrics.

The Bugs, Good Grief, the Spiders!

And, the bugs! The mean yellowjackets, the stupid, slow, annoying flies  and the spiders – good grief, the spiders!

Clatskanie (as does much of the coastal Pacific Northwest) has a population of “greater”
European house spiders (Tegenaria gigantea) that make some tarantulas look petite. They grow up to a four-inch leg span. That’s the males, the females are bigger.

There are, supposedly, two good things about these frighteningly big spiders. They have never been known to bite humans, according to the “BugGuide” website, and it is believed that they scare away (or kill) the smaller, but similar-looking and more dangerous-to-humans Hobo spiders (Tegenaria agrestis).

Well, good for Tegenaria gigantea!

But, when I pull down the sun visor in my car and a spider with a at least a two-inch leg span crawls out from behind it, that can be dangerous – trust me! Thank heavens I was just pulling into my garage when that happened about 10 days ago, and not going 55 mph down Highway 30.

When I found a three-incher hiding in the folds of a towel I was about to wrap around myself the night this column was begun – that was the clincher.

Eventually, I’ll get all the bugs which intrude on my space – I defend my territory – but the invasion from outside needs to stop, and that means a couple of good hard rains and a few nice frosty mornings. That’ll drive the bugs into submission until next spring.

But, I digress – that spider in the towel kind of got to me.

Enough, Already!

I understand that a certain amount of sunshine and warm weather is desirable. It makes the gardens grow. It allows outdoor work to be done, and thus provides employment. It is good for summer celebrations. It makes the sun people happy.

I also realize that we had a nice cool, wet spring (but not to the extent that it caused flood damage around here). When the sun finally came out sometime in June, I was okay with it. But now it’s almost October.

I heard a lot of bellyaching about what was perceived to be the late coming of summer. Looking back at the weather records kept by the City of Clatskanie public works crew, June had only 1.28 inches of rainfall, less than average, but it was slightly cooler than normal. July had 1.64 inches of rain, more than usual, but it was mainly concentrated during one week in mid-July, Twenty days in July had no rain at all, and all but five had less than one-tenth of an inch. July also was slightly cooler than average.

The sun lovers got happier in August when there was no rain at all on 28 out of the 31 days, only trace amounts on Aug. 6 and 30, and .05 of an inch on Aug. 31. The mean temperature for the month was almost dead-on-average.

We haven’t got the September weather records yet, but the hottest days of summer came early in the month, and the light rain we’ve had as of this writing has been just enough to ease the forest fire danger.

Monday, with its sprinkles and blustery winds, brought the first real breath of autumn. Temperatures are predicted to be in the 60s and 70s for the next week – partly cloudy, and a chance of rain on one or two days.

We’ve now had over three months of summer weather. Total rainfall for the season was right around average. Northwest Oregon gets three months of summer – that’s it. Now it’s my turn.

Rain in My Veins

I think my preference for cool, cloudy weather is in-born. I was conceived during the record snowfall of January 1950, and born (three weeks late, according to my mother) on Nov. 13,  two days before the wettest day on record for November.

Throughout my life, my birthdays have been almost always rainy – often stormy, occasionally there have been real gales. A few years ago it was sunny on my birthday – it just didn’t seem right.

I know some of you are sorry to see the passing of a summer you thought was too short, but try to be positive.

Halloween is just a month away, and after that Thanksgiving, then Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day. Fall and winter are so much fun!

And, I’ve never had my fill of snow. The only time I was truly snow-satisfied was the school year of 1968-69 when I went to college in upstate New York. We had snow on the ground from Thanksgiving until spring vacation. It was great!

All of the rest of my years have been spent in Northwest Oregon, except for six in Madras. It was cold enough to snow in Madras, but too darned dry for any impressive accumulation.

Yes, we’ve had some decent snowfalls during my lifetime in Clatskanie, but there were many more winters of unsuccessful wishing.

So, as I say happily goodbye to the summer of 2011, here are my wishes for the winter to come.

Enough rain to keep the hydroelectric generators working at full capacity, and the power rates low, but not enough to cause mudslides or flooding.

A nice snowfall of six to eight inches on the valley floor – preferably between Christmas and the New Year – followed by a moderately cold snap – cold enough to keep the snow fresh and pretty, but not so cold that the water pipes break. Then a very gradual melt with no “Pineapple Express” rainstorms.

We’ll see if my wishes come true.

In the meantime, whether you’re a sun lover or a cool/cloudy person, we hope your fall and winter will be warm with the fellowship of family and friends.

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