Aug 12, 2022

A Ban for All Seasons

Climate change is really wrecking our scheduling

By Ed Goldman

According to reliable sources, Summer ends at midnight, September 21. That’s still six weeks away so don’t store those white shoes or start unpacking your tweedy sweaters just yet. 

In California in particular, regardless of the vagaries of climate change, we usually experience Faux Fall before Authentic Autumn creeps in: a short period of delightfully cooling days that leaves you completely off guard when a brutal last gasp of boiling weather moves in and mocks us for our smuggery.

Edgy Cartoon

Baton Ruse

By the way, you’ll have no doubt observed that I believe in capitalizing the names of the seasons. To me, this is only fair. We capitalize the monikers of other things that weigh in our lives, don’t we—the days of the week, the months of the year, significant time periods? I mean, nobody ever lowercases the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression, the Civil War, Reconstruction or the Industrial Age, correct? (Well, maybe the poet ee cummings did when he was in school, just to give the style a tryout for his later career, which still produced far less interesting work than, say robert frost, sylvia plath or w b yeats.)  

Season changes themselves have seemed to change over the course of my life, which I’m sure is attributable to climate change—the naturally occurring one as well as the murderous manmade one caused by Arrid Extra Dry Anti-Perspirant—as well as to my own shifting geography. 

After all, I spent the first eight years of my life in New York City, the next 18 in Southern California and the past 46 in Sacramento. I was going to say “in Northern California” but since that vaguely includes perpetually cool San Francisco and totally bizarre Lassen National Park, where I was driven through the snow one July in about 2010, let’s use California’s capital as our base line: We get summers that can range from 85 to 110 degrees, often in the same week.

One Summer when I went with my daughter to England, the day started out with thunder, lightning and torrential rains, by noon had turned unbearably humid and hot, and by dinnertime windy and cold. 

“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours,” Mark Twain wrote of Great Britain. 

Today, it’s difficult to generalize about the weather when there’s so much of it. 

In the old days, when people said they were having “lots of weather” on a particular day, they usually meant snow, rain showers or a hail storm—somewhat related, rarely welcome conditions, but usually predictable. 

But these days, “lots of weather” can mean that all known meteorological phenomena will be on exhibit during the week ahead, making it hard for you to plan on your wardrobe as well as turning forecasters on TV’s Weather Channel to on-air drinking.

In my opinion, the most accurate climate prognosticator was George Carlin, who famously gave this report in one of his monologues: “Weather forecast for tonight: dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning.”  

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).