(Host) Commentator Madeleine May Kunin reflects on the unpredictable temperatures and whether or not it’s finally spring.
(Kunin) I don’t know what they talk about in California. It can’t be the weather. In Vermont, when the first summer days arrive people speak about nothing else.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” a woman whose name I do not know tells me. She smiles the smile of someone who has just been liberated from her coat, shoes, hat and gloves, and adds, “absolutely delightful.” I agree, smiling back.
She is the fifth or sixth person who has talked about the day’s weather, and it’s still morning. Feeling the shocking warmth, I ask myself, is it hot enough for sunscreen? What about my straw hat.
Recent days were typical for a Vermont spring. First we shuddered as temperatures sank to the 40’s and listened with disbelief as snow flurries were reported in the higher elevations of Franklin county. Could it be true, in April?
Asked by friends in Washington whether spring had arrived in the northern reaches of Vermont, I had to say no, not yet. “We have to be patient, you know. The daffodils have just gotten enough courage to stand up straight and face the sun.”
Then overnight, the thermometer shot up to seventy and beyond.
In the morning I wore a light jacket, just in case. By 10 am I discarded it, feeling free and somewhat light headed. Everyone talked about the weather. No mention of Iraq, George Bush or John Kerry. What mattered was the warmth, the touch of soft air on bare arms.
The first warm day was treated like a miracle not a normal act of nature. It came so quickly, totally unannounced. I had not yet had a chance to bring my sweaters to the cleaners and look through my summer clothes. I wasn’t ready. But ready or not, wrinkled or not, I looked through my silks and cottons and found something that freed me from the thickness of winter’s layers.
The students have the right idea. They put on their flip flops and shorts the minute the temperature hits the 40’s. I look at my sandals and say, not yet.
In Vermont we do not indulge in seasonal transitions.
We do not argue with summer’s erratic behavior, here one day, gone the next. We just take it as it comes, grateful for what we are given. We know the weather will continue to tease us. There will be blustery days, cold days, gray days before summer has fully arrived.
These changes in the weather will give us lots to talk about. The weather gives us a common experience as we adjust from one day to another, from gray, to sun, cold to warmth – sharing our reactions with friends and strangers, and knowing that whatever the weather is on any particular day, it is bound to surprise us the next.
This is Madeleine May Kunin.
Madeleine May Kunin is a former governor of Vermont.