It rained today. Although anywhere else you’d call it mist. Southern California only has two speeds, mist and downpour, and today it was the former. And at first you think it’s overflow from the car in front of you, you know, its misaimed windshield jets, happens all the time, have you experienced it? And then you realize no, it’s coming from the sky, which is oh-so-rare in April, never mind June, and then you believe the wind will clear your windscreen and then…you turn on the windshield wipers, which you’re loath to do, because if there’s not enough water you just get streaks of dirt and even if you turn on you own washers it never seems to do the trick.
It’s not summer here. It won’t be until sometime after July 4th. I know, that’s hard to fathom if you live anywhere else, like the east coast, where summer begins on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day, but out here, on the left coast, at the bottom of the state, summer can run all the way to Halloween. My A/C went kaput in September and I was debating whether to fix it and Felice said it would be hot for two more months, but she grew up here.
I grew up on the east coast, Connecticut, when school didn’t start until after Labor Day and it ended in the middle of June, how late depended upon how many snow days you’d had, but the earliest I ever remember school ending was June 17th. But in the last two weeks of classes we’d go down to the beach, with our transistors and suntan oil, maybe even make a rush into the water…no one goes into the water out here now, unless they’re a surfer, wearing a wetsuit.
After classes ended we’d have a week or two before camp.
Camp. Maybe it’s a Jewish thing. But I recommend it for all kids. It’s where you make friends, it’s where you belong, sans the stratification of academics. All day long you integrate and play, those were some of the best times of my life. If I could go to summer camp for the rest of my days, I’d sign up for that. I know, I know, there are adult camps now, but no one leaves their identity and status behind. What their job is, what kind of car they drive, where they’ve been… People want to let you know they’re better than you, whereas when you’re young, you’re all in it together, at least at summer camp.
And when you go to summer camp, there are days like today. Gray. When you’ve got to wear a hoodie to breakfast, when you’ve got to wear long pants. When swimming is canceled and there’s a movie in the lodge, assuming they have one and it’s really raining.
That’s something I miss about the east coast, the rain. Oh, it’s terrible when you live there, your plans are often thwarted, long weekends are ruined. But the precipitation changes the pace, the mentality. On a rainy afternoon you can sit home and read a book, or go to the movies and not feel guilty. When it’s sunny on the east coast you’ve got to take advantage. But it’s those rainy days I miss.
They happen in July, but I mostly remember them in August. When the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping and you know fall is coming.
And fall’s stretch of good weather depends upon where you reside. In Connecticut, where I grew up, it wasn’t until October that you got cold days, the kind that had your fingers tingling. But that could happen at the end of September when I went to college in Vermont. And November is miserable everywhere. And when you hit winter, it could be bitter cold and snow or warm and rain and it’s so disappointing. Especially if you’re an outdoorsman. You’re thrilled if you can ski into April, this year they’re skiing at Mammoth, in the Sierras, until August. Really. Check it out. Go to the website.
But what I love about the gray weather and the rain is the mood it puts me in. Like I’m in a cocoon. Like what’s in my brain is more important than the penumbra. I’m a cornucopia of feelings and memories. They come flooding back, what I was doing when it was like this before.
Lying on my bed in Botwinik at Camp Laurelwood.
Lying in the grass with my hand on that co-counselor at Camp Pine Cone.
Listening to Eric Clapton’s “Easy Now” on cassette.
Listening to “Let It Rain.”