“Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” — Vivian Greene
Shut up, Vivian. Just shut up, won’t you?
So, I was cruising along one of Poland’s nearly forgotten back roads this weekend, trying to find my way to a nice beachy spot at which to cool my rubber.
When I had set off an hour earlier, there had been the promise of a sunny day, but that’s the thing about the summer of 2023: It never keeps those promises.
The first raindrop splashed against my goggles. The second got me on the neck and then trickled down my shirt. It started as just a playful sprinkle but before I could utter my first curse word, it was a downpour.
Another !$#@! downpour that seemed to be out to get me personally.
What followed was a long string of swear words, uttered so viciously and for so long, my goggles fogged up. I don’t think most of them were actually words at all — I had used up all the best swears by the middle of June so I had to start making new ones up.
What spewed from my raging mouth that day on the back roads of Poland was just a series of guttural screams and foul-tasting screeches. It was the sound I imagine that elephant seals make when they’re mating or just really, really mad about the weather.
I got soaked, by the way. Thanks for asking. It rained just long enough to drench me and then the sun reappeared, ever so mockingly in the sky.
“I don’t know what YOU’RE getting so sore about,” that snarky sun seemed to cajole. “It ain’t MY fault you have to ring out your socks and underpants every five minutes.”
By the time I was finished my ride, it had been two hours of baking hot sunlight alternating at eerily regular intervals with cold drizzles and sudden torrents.
You know: same as it ever was. Same as it was in May. Same as it was in June. Same as it was in July and then into August, which is now about to depart us after doing nothing good for anybody except for worms and damp-loving mushrooms.
Don’t get me wrong, Swamp Thing. Riding in the rain can be a lot of fun. My faithful Suzuki DR650 was designed specifically for mudholes, giant puddles and long stretches of slop where only frogs and mosquitoes dare to tread. Some of my best rides over the years were in the middle of rainstorms.
But this summer, man… It didn’t just rain on me occasionally when I went out on the bike. It happened EVERY SINGLE TIME, to the point where I started speaking in the language of the lion seal nearly full time.
The timing and the fury of the rain this season became the ultimate destroyer of all of those fanciful summertime dreams we all indulged in during the long nine months of winter. You dreamed of glorious camping trips with the family and ended up with 3 inches of water in the bottom of your tent. You imagined long afternoons on the beach at OOB and ended up huddled for half the day under Joe’s Tattoo Emporium canopy, so delirious with disappointment you actually considered getting the image of a rain cloud inked in on one of your butt cheeks. And who could blame you?
The rain clouds themselves seemed particularly sly and malicious this summer, waiting to pounce on you and your plans like a cat on a field mouse. How many times have you gone out into your backyard to squint up at that bright blue sky, all flawless and full of promise?
“I say Stella,” you’d shout over your shoulder. “What a fine afternoon for a barbecue! Gather up the kids! Call forth the neighbors and pull those Delmonicos from the fridge. By gory, we’re going to have ourselves a swell ol’ time!”
A half-hour later there you were, nearly drowning in your own driveway, clinging to a soggy bag of charcoal briquettes, even though the fine print clearly tells you that briquettes should never be used as a flotation device.
“The clouds,” you sputter, coughing up filthy rainwater. “They seemed to come out of nowhere…”
Then you summarize the entire experience with just one barked word, bringing shame down on your family before the entire neighborhood.
You know what that word is. Don’t make me say it again.
When this sopping wet season is over, the Sun Journal (someone other than me, preferably) will speak to a number of wise weather officials to extract from them an earnest assessment of this poop show of a summer. These weather experts will calmly provide us with rain totals, details on seasonal norms and no end of historical data that will help us put it all into some kind of perspective. There will be talk of El Nino, El Nina or some other cunningly named weather system by way of explanation for why this summer has produced so much #!!#@! rain.
We, the Sun Journal-but-hopefully-not-me-specifically, will publish all this with charts and graphs and other nerdified graphics to help make sense of those three months of wet shoes, overgrown lawns and canceled barbecues and beach excursions.
To me, though, we don’t really need all that. This summer can be perfectly expressed in that primal scream of profanity I offered to the world that day in the wet wilds of Poland. The newspaper will give you 2,000 words of weather information when, in fact, most of us could summarize this lost summer in just such a way, and who cares about bringing shame down on the family, anyway? Your reputation was shot the moment those beautiful Delmonico steaks washed down the sewer drain.
The summer weather of 2023 has been the most absurd I’ve ever experienced, and you’re talking to a guy who bought a motorcycle in the summer of 2009; a summer in which it rained every single day until August. But 2009 had nothing on this, our true summer of rain. We’ve all spent so much time under water by this point we ought to have our SCUBA certificates.
And to me the most frustrating part of it all is that, while screaming swear words into the soaking wet world WILL make you feel better for a while, in the end there is really nobody specific toward which to direct your rage.
Am I supposed to drive to the weather service in Gray and yell at the forecasters who deliver the bad news? Should we storm the offices of The Farmer’s Almanac and rant at poor Peter Geiger because his publication predicted such a sorry state of summer affairs? Can we demand refunds from Joe Cupo, or whomever is doing the weather on the TV news stations these days?
Nope. There’s nobody to yell at but the sky itself and the sky laughs at your red-faced anger, soaking wet socks and washed -out plans. The sky is too busy preparing to bring on another nine-month winter to bother with your puny complaints. Best you can do is bark like a seal, cancel your plans and wring out your underpants for the third time today.
And like that, a new summertime tradition is born.
I call it: !!#$@!!
Mark LaFlamme covers crime, general news, pickleball and the weather. You can share news tips and weather observations with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by PostX News and is published from a syndicated feed.)