Wednesday 26 June 2013

That Yoyo Called "Weather"

I’m sitting in the Winter Garden with my favourite comfort-food sandwich: Wensleydale with dried dill. I’ve also got a few leaves of curly green and red lettuce fresh from a friend’s allotment – and a summer assortment of nectarine, apricot, and mango slices.

I went to California for a short visit last month. While I was there the weather was pleasantly springlike – in a Southern Californian way, that is. My mom only had to turn on the air conditioning three times, and the majority of days were suitable for sandals. Up in Northern California a summer jacket was sufficient for evenings.

I came home to find Sheffield in total meteorological chaos. For the last few days it’s been cool, with hot sunbreaks along with gusty icy winds occurring within the same minute, with the element of surprise being a sudden but momentary downpour. Sitting outside I get a real upper-body workout simply donning and doffing my jacket over and over again, dozens of times.

I can’t help but be amused by the confusion I see on the city streets. Two young women passed by, one wearing a jacket, scarf, and boots, and the other in a vest, short trousers, and sandals. Probably 85 percent of the populace are wearing jackets in varying degrees of heaviness, and the other 15 percent are strolling about in their shirt sleeves, a few displaying impressive goosepimple patterns on their arms. The other day a young boy I know was contentedly wearing a padded jacket and a trapper’s hat with earflaps. And this was inside, not outside. When the sun smiles pleasantly, coaxing people out into beer gardens and onto decks, the sudden exodus into shelter can be striking when a surprise hurricane does its magic trick by suddenly announcing “WHOOSH!” It’s 3:13pm: do you know where your patio umbrella is?

They say this “uncertain” weather is going to last for the next 10 years. Meanwhile I’m considering buying a bigger backpack so that I can leave the house every morning prepared for what might happen. If this summer I wear a t-shirt, light jacket, jeans, shoes, and sunglasses, then my “uncertain” weather back-up gear should include the following: sandals, shorts, sun hat, vest, sunscreen, umbrella, Pac-Mac, scarf, gloves, jumper, winter boots, winter coat, winter hat, ice grips, and a couple of heavy boulders to hold down lightweight items in a gale.

I’ll have to shop for a very big backpack…

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