Unlike my wife, who prefers three-digit temperatures, I’m a big fan of summer in Idaho. Delightfully warm but not overly hot. Blue skies punctuated with cotton ball clouds and the smell of growing crops and pine trees. The whisper of cottonwood and aspen leaves. The throaty, sibilant sound of mountain creeks pouring over rocks and river grass.
But getting to each green and mellow summer means putting up with Idaho’s crazy springs. And by late April each year my patience with springtime is wearing short.
Enough with the mid-30’s mornings. Enough with coats. And enough with the wind.
Call me crazy, but I’m tired of sunshine, a livable temperature just shy of fifty, and a list of outside chores to accomplish only to walk out the door and get blasted by a west wind that puts dust in my eyes and a coat on my back.
I’m tired of waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of nearby trains—except that there aren’t any trains. It’s just the trees being shaken by the wind like nature’s hand rattling dice before letting them roll.
Through the years I’ve lived in both Texas and Oklahoma. I’m used to yearly roof repairs due to tiles worn loose over time and finally blown away. But there’s constancy to the wind on the plains. In time you don’t notice it as much.
But in Idaho it blows like crazy then leaves you alone. You think you’re done. You notice birds are no longer walking around on your driveway because they can fly again. You head back out to your garden.
But then, bam. A good Idaho wind can go from zero to fifty in a half hour. And when it hits you may as well go box store shopping in the afternoon, because you’re not going to get anything done outside.
Well, not everything stops for winds. I admire the farmers in the cabs of their tractors plowing their fields. At least I think they’re plowing their fields. All I can see are the dark clouds of stirred up dirt I have to drive through on the way to WalMart. There’s either a tractor out there somewhere, or the Oklahoma dust bowl has just relocated to the Northwest.
In the warmer climates starting about 700 miles south of us it’s springtime by March. Think of that. Their tulips have already blossomed, and their sweaters have been packed away for a month. Newly tanned legs are peaking out of their owners’ shorts like the first shoots of corn coming up in the fields. Birds sing. Sprinklers dance.
And here we are, almost to May, and half the women in Costco are still wearing sweatshirts.
Personally, by the time April rolls around I’m ready to rebel. Earlier this week the wind was howling, the temperature was in the mid-40’s, and I was wearing shorts. Sometimes you just have to take a stand.
Meanwhile, every morning I get up and turn the thermostat to 72 degrees. All day long the heater hums. I have a vague recollection of once sleeping with the windows open, but who am I kidding? It’s only almost-May. Maybe by the 4th of July.
It’s true my tulips are blooming. But I’m sure they do it to mock me. I see them through the window and decide it must be a good day outside. How can you have tulips blooming and it not be a good day? So I go outside, and immediately come back inside for a coat. Shorts and a coat. I may be a rebel, but I’m not dumb.
And so it goes with springtime in Idaho. The summers are great—all eight weeks of them—but sometimes, I admit, the spring roller coaster gets old. Yes, the last few days have been great. Are we over the hump? It’s possible. But then again it’s still springtime. And this is still Idaho…