It is hard even to think of it now, to believe it exists. I write this in August, in Michigan (and it feels sometimes like I am always in Michigan), on one of the first days we've had where you can even start believing in fall again. It's been hot this summer, hot everywhere. The television says heat wave and the documentaries tell me about global warming and what I can do to stop it and I feel like I am beneath someone's thumb or mouth or boot. My friend Emma moved into her new apartment a couple weeks ago, during the second big heat wave of the summer, in the historic neighborhood (on the National Register of Historic Places, no less, meaning that you need permission to change anything on the exterior of your house) that has a lot of houses worth a lot of money, and her first night in her new place the power went. Turns out the power company shut down the transformer for six hours to upgrade something because they thought it would blow under the increased load from the trillion air conditioners humming and dripping throughout the day, the night, and so they fixed it and got the grid back up and running, only to have a limb break and drop on the now-fixed transformer 12 hours later, thus bringing the grid back down for another six hours. Emma was too hot, and too mannered and laid back, really, to be irate. Everyone on the block surely baked.
It was hot everywhere for a week, and we baked, and some of us probably wept, and we begged the gods for succor, like one of those Coors Light ads where the Love Train from the disco song shows up blasting all these tank-topped hotties with the frosty goodness of the Silver Bullet. That would have been okay with me—one of the few times I have craved Coors Light in my life.
But today, today is a different story—it's cooled, 70s, full-on sun, but it's dry and beautiful. One of these days that is all summer but that which simultaneously suggests summer's end, which means fall and the semester and Back to School Days at Target and Wal-Mart and Meijer, which means, if you follow it logically, that there must be a winter after this, and winter in Michigan means snow, even on the West edge of the Lower Peninsula where everyone complains about how bad we have it, how much snow we get. Let me tell you people: my home in the Upper Peninsula has it much worse than this. Of course so does Canada and Greenland and the Arctic Circle. I feel obligated to testify for my customary stoicism in the face of overwhelming inclement weather. Everyone in the Midwest feels stoic, sort of hardy, at some point. It is probably a human trait, but it's a Midwestern one to be sure, to complain about the weather, but really complain about the complainers who can't take a good Midwestern winter, because we had it worse, no doubt about it, uphill both ways to school being whipped by giant fishheads, etc.
But that—the logical ebb of summer into snow—is far off today. And the gradual reduction in gradations on our thermometers will happen eventually, as we approach less atomic motion, as we asymptotically approach absolute zero, if you really want to follow the logical end of it all, everything: the whole universe eventually waning, falling apart, losing energy and dissipating in the void.
I sort of want it to happen.
Then people would stop complaining, at least.
And I do want the snow, the trudge, the February sludging when it all gets dirty and starts building up. I want to be buried in it, these extremes of weather again. I am sort of thankful even for the big heat wave because it raises the body's appreciation for heat's opposite, the comfort of the cold.
I am a warm person. I sweat, I swear I don't wear sweaters, or if I wear them I don't wear coats on top of them. I am made by the cold. I am made for the cold. It is in my Scandinavian blood. My people go from the sauna into water underneath the frozen skin of lake. And as much as I enjoy the heat, I want immobility, I want to dress up to go outside again, I want to court hypothermia as I would a woman.
See also William Bentley. See also Observations of Snow Structure. See also Frequently Asked Questions about Snow. See also the NOAA's National Weather Service Photo Archives. See also the Houghton County Road Commission's website. See also the Michigan Snowmobile Association. See also the MTU Keweenaw Research Center's Institute of Snow Research. See also The Avalanche Research Page. See also Paradoxical Undressing. See also Neck Deep.