I do not like being sweaty — except when I run. Even then, I barely tolerate it. I’m not happy about it, but it’s for a short time, so I suck it up and deal. Plus, I view sweaty summer runs as multi-purpose affairs that not only exercise my body but also cleanse my pores. Win/win and all that.
Outside of runs, however, I do not like having rivulets of sweat course down my body when I’m doing something as simple as walking from my car into a grocery store. Or simply sitting still and breathing. I do not like having my clothes become damp from perspiration and then sticking to my already-warm skin. I definitely do not like having sticky skin sticking to other sticky parts of my sticky skin.
I grew up in a house without air conditioning, so I remember all too well the miseries of Virginia summers in June, July, and August without any sort of cooled air. To this day, I do not take air conditioning for granted and I appreciate every chilled blast that emanates from the vents around Jenworld.
This summer, for the third year in a row, it has been miserably hot here in Virginia. Proof of global warming, for realz. The last few days haven’t been so bad, but last week was brutal, with highs of 100+. It’s times like those that I aestivate and pray for October to hurry up.
But even when it’s in the 80s, I’m mildly discontented. I just don’t like hot weather. I don’t like being cold either, but at least I can easily prepare for the cold. In fact, I love cold weather because I can wear cute wool sweaters and vibrant scarves, and great boots.
I have heard of places that have nice cool summers. I fantasize about being in a locale where one can greet each July day without considering the possibilities of heat stroke. San Francisco, for example. I’ve heard people complain that San Francisco can be damp and chilly in the summer. That sounds heavenly to me.
I’ve also heard that the Pacific Northwest doesn’t get too miserable between the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. Yes, it rains there, but I can live with it.
London is another place that has lovely summers.
Again, I wouldn’t mind cool, wet days. After all, I’d be in England.
For a long time, I was under the impression that Maine is a lovely place in the summer. After all, Maine is the home of L.L. Bean and L.L. Bean is the company that taunts me every summer with catalogs full of photos of happy people wearing summer weight sweaters and summer weight woolens and summer weight gauze scarves. A typical summer L.L. Bean catalog shows models smiling beatifically while wearing more layers than Helena Bonham Carter, with nary a drop of sweat in sight. I cannot even fathom such a life, although I’d be happy to live it.
But then I actually visited Maine two years ago. I was so excited and for weeks eagerly anticipated the cool Maine breezes that would wash over my body while I feasted on lobster three meals a day. The reality was that for the 48 hours we were there, the temps hovered around 99 degrees, with so-called lows in the upper 80s at night. And no one up there has AC and some folks don’t even have fans or ice cubes. I couldn’t get out of the state fast enough. (But we did eat a lot of lobstah, so there’s that.)
I am still bitter about Maine’s betrayal.
I also used to believe that Cape Cod was similar to Maine, but then early in my marriage, I spent a looooooooooong week in a cottage with no AC or fans or even a breeze coming off the water. This was a week in which the temps climbed into the 90s and stayed there and the humidity matched the heat. I promptly changed my plan of wearing summer weight sweaters and scavenged my suitcase for the lightest clothing possible, while plotting my escape. (The presence of certain people related to me by marriage might or might not have made the situation all that much worse.)
I also used to believe that Canada — which is even farther north than Maine and Massachusetts and is therefore closer to the North Pole — is a delightfully cool place in the summer. But then we visited Toronto (summer 2008 — highs in the 90s) and Quebec (summer 2011 — highs in the 90s) and I was further disillusioned.
Last summer’s visit to Ottawa improved on things a bit, as Mother Nature saw fit to cool things down to the upper 70s. Ask Alison — I was absolutely giddy with delight when we got to her house and I realized that I was chilly and needed a sweater.
So I was somewhat mollified by Canada’s gesture of good faith last summer. However, my Canadian sources have informed me that last week it was hotter up there than it was down her. I’m thinking that Canada can no longer be trusted to cool people off for the summer, eh?
I’ve been pondering lately what it would be like to live somewhere where the summers are pleasant. In fact, I’d like to order up a summer in which the temps rarely get above 80 and when they do, they are not accompanied by fabric-soaking humidity. I don’t particularly care if it’s sunny or rainy. I don’t even have a particular preference for the high and low temperatures. I just want to not be miserable from the heat.
Where would this utopia be? Clearly, one cannot look at a map and assume that northern climes mean pleasant summers. I’m also not saying I’d move there full time — I love living here in Virginia and would simply like to escape for July and August. And even that won’t work for another couple of decades until we’re retired. But that means I can spend the next 20 years pondering where we’re going to summer in our retirement and then prepare accordingly.
Scandinavia is a possibility. Today it’s supposed to be 68 degrees in Stockholm, with lows of 55 tonight. 20 years should be enough time to learn Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, or Danish.
There’s also Scotland. It’s going to be 61 in Edinburgh today, with only a 20% chance of rain. And I wouldn’t even need to learn a new language.
Of course, on the other side of the world, it’s currently winter in Australia and New Zealand. It was 58 in Auckland today and 61 in Sydney. This was a crucial factor in the timing of our upcoming visit — hot and humid here, but cool and pleasant down there. I’ve already started packing sweaters and lightweight scarves. Apparently, Down Under is where I’ll get to wear my L.L. Bean summer weight wardrobe.
Let’s pretend. You have the opportunity to spend a summer wherever you want. Where would you go?