Ah, autumn. Cool, crisp days and falling leaves. Sticky mornings and breathlessly muggy afternoons. Shivering at 9, but tanning by 4. Hot soup simmering in the crockpot on Tuesday, summer salad on Wednesday, and back to stew again on Thursday. Air conditioning blasting one day, heat cranked up the next.
Confused? Let me explain. Most climates know what they’re about. In Alaska, it was frigid from late September til mid-May. Well, to be fair, we had a bizarre thaw one December; but then the weather quickly froze everything into a sheet of ice to prove that yes, winter was winter, and it really did know what it was about. In Florida, it was mild year-round, but we natives marked the season by whether it was too cold to go swimming in the ocean. Fortunately, too-cold-for-swimsuits season coincided with fresh-grapefruit season, so we had something Floridian to keep us amused throughout the winter.
But here, in the great and weather-confused state of Louisiana, it’s…different. The weather simply cannot make up its mind. And so, for six long months, it agonizes. Drench us? Scorch us? Freeze us? It’s not quite sure, so it tries a little of each.
First, there’s the variation within a single day. When you send your kids off to school in the morning, they’re wearing 17 layers. As each hour passes, they shed one, until they’re finally in a t-shirt– and all the extra clothes you sent with them is spilling out of their tote bag, making a Hansel-and-Gretel path to your car as they lug it down the walkway. Or the reverse: it’s 80 degrees at 8 a.m., so your little one makes her merry way to school wearing short sleeves, a skirt, and ankle socks. When you pick her up three hours and 40 degrees later, other parents give you the disgusted-with-your-terrible-parenting glare, which would bother you if you weren’t desperately trying to wrap your arms around your kid and book it to the car before you both catch pneumonia.
Then, there’s the variation from day to day. I’m not talking hat, scarves, mitts and snowpants vs. just the parka. I’m talking tank tops, shorts and flipflops vs. parkas and hats. Although Sunday may be shorts-and-BBQ weather, Monday is just as likely to require jeans, a sweater, and possibly a hat, if you can find one in the stores. Weird flukes happen in all climates, but the problem here is that the “flukes” are normal. Simply put, the weather in Louisiana doesn’t just change, it CHANGES. Every. Single. Darn. Day.
You can’t put away your summer clothes, because you might need them, and you’ll bake. You can’t put away your winter clothes, because without them, you might freeze. So two seasons’ worth of garments all exist in a jumbled mass in your overstuffed closet, and every morning you’re glued to the Weather Channel to figure out whether you’re dressing for December or July.
By the time Louisiana finally makes up its mind, it’s time for summer to start, and the decision is moot. The longsuffering residents are now relieved of their wishywashy weather woes. They can at last put away one set of clothes, relieving the tension of their overburdened closets, and prepare for some steady temperatures.
Or maybe not. During the summers in Louisiana, they’ve become so accustomed to the weather’s crazy bungee-jumping, that they kind of miss it when it stops. At least, that’s what the stores and offices seem to presume. Indoors, it’s an arctic simulation, and you’re miserable. Outdoors, it’s a blast furnace, and you’re miserable. But let’s look on the positive side. As you stand on the threshold, on your way in and out, being hit by cold and warm at once, for one moment in the entire year, you’re supremely comfortable– and supremely happy. That is, of course, until someone shouts, “Shut the #!&@! door!” You do, and descend once more into the fiery pits.
So you complain that you can’t wait til the cooler weather hits. Louisiana weather rouses itself and decides to do something about it. Correction: make that, decides to decide to do something about it. There’s no hurry; there are still months left to determine whether to go warm or cold. And you will get to enjoy the indecision.