I am sitting in the spindle-backed chair in front of a slow computer wrapped in the same down comforter that I sat under in February. The plaid scarf get-up I wore indoors all winter has been put to rest, but it is June 16th and outside the thermometer hovers at a damp 58 degrees. The furnace just kicked in because the programmable thermostat, long dialed down in anticipation of summer, registered temperatures below the minimum threshold (FYI, that’s 60). This morning, I yanked on one of the three interchangeable pairs of blue jeans I lived in all winter while gazing longingly at the Capri’s and shorts I swapped to my drawer last month. Then I sighed and snuck back into our cedar closet to find a warmer sweater.
Spring in New England is iffy. Growing up in our thrifty Yankee household, Mom always turned the thermostat off at the beginning of May, though there were plenty of days after that we'd tweak it back up--Heaven help us when we got caught. Now the oil bills belong to Tim and me and though I’m tempted to push the “up” arrow until I hear the whoosh of the furnace, instead I wander with my comforter—at a time when I should be planning for the beach.
Not this June though, and after an interminable winter in which I tried my frugal best to keep the heat down, I’m starting to take it personally. According the National Weather Service, in the last fifteen days the average weather has been 62.5, which is 3.5 degrees below normal for the month. And that my friends, is in Boston. It’s been a long time since I worked in the city, but those tall buildings hold residual heat and, depending on what street you are on they also block the wind. Here, we live in the shadows of towering pines, and suffer the breeze; a straight shot off of the ocean which today, according to a blackboard at the deserted beach, registered a water temperature identical to our backyard--a balmy 58.
As I regretfully turn down the thermostat so the furnace stops, and wrap myself tighter in the comforter, I recognize yet another unexpected impact of unemployment. At work, I didn’t pay for the heat. We programmed the home furnace down when we left the house, and up when we returned, in between, the company paid for my warmth.
And yes, it’s New England. Don’t think I’m not aware that before I finish grumbling about the cold, we’ll have a heat wave. In spite of the fact at the moment, my fingers ache in the dampness--any minute now I’ll be longing for my old air conditioned office. Power of positive thinking though, that one I’ve got figured out. On hot mornings I’ll work in the library. In the afternoons I’m heading to the beach.
Of course, as soon as I finished editing this, the sun came out.