Don't get me wrong, I am an absolute fan of not having to pay Comm Ed or Nicor. The moderate temperatures have been great for the household utility budget. One can even say that they are conducive to wanting to be outdoors. Lawn mowing isn't a sweaty miserable chore, and weeding the garden is even a bit more tolerable. Bugs are not a significant problem which surprises me with all the rain we have had. Overall, it has been pleasant, but having lived in the Chicago area for the better portion of my life, I am concerned. If this is July, what is January going to be like?
I remember summers like this. They just never seemed to be summer. It was always just a bit too cool for enjoying time in the pool. After a short while you were hopping right back out and looking for an exceptionally thick and warm beach towel to wrap around your shivering self. If you were out after dusk, you were probably wearing long sleeves at the very least, and possibly a sweatshirt. It was like being in the North Woods of Wisconsin without the long boring car drive. This isn't new, and I am not frantically running around assuming that the world is coming to an end. It is just one of those cool and somewhat rainy cycles.
With all the rain, the vegetable garden is pretty lush. The problem is that without consistent sun and warmth, the veggies don't want to mature, don't want to ripen. I have tons of tomatoes, very grean tomatoes, and the same is true of peppers as well. My berry bushes have put out flowers, but not developed the juicy fruit that we enjoyed last season. The herb garden sprouted quickly, but is looking a bit scraggly now. We need some sunlight and warmth! The weather pattern is great, if you happen to be a duck or a goose, as all the low lying areas are filled with water for play. Another plus, is that I am getting plenty of walking exercise behind the lawn mower. Normally in July, you might be cutting grass (actually the weeds that poke up above the somewhat dry and browned grass) about every two weeks, but this year, the lawn mower is firing up twice a week. In fact, the sound of lawnmowers is no longer a weekend only occurrence up and down the block. It is really easy to tell which neighbor cut grass and on which days.
And summer vacation has been a disappointment for the kids. "I'm bored" became the mantra before the 4th of July. Can't ride bikes, roller blade, or skateboard in a driving downpour. Often the ball diamonds and soccer fields are a sodden mess, with park district workers trying to keep them in some sort of trim for the Little League games and soccer tournaments that aren't rained out. Netflix had a novelty appeal to fill some rainy days, but even reruns of favorite sitcoms has lost luster. And we are gearing up for a new school year in just a few weeks. Many kids feel like they haven't had vacation yet.
Certificates earned at school last year for free water park admission have not been used because it has been either stormy or too cool. Trips to the zoo are hampered by having to frantically seek the indoor exhibits with all those other families in the event of sudden downpours. I would imagine that the museums are probably doing a huge gate this summer as folks are seeking indoor activities. Most families seem to have adopted the "staycation", because discretionary income isn't what it used to be, and gasoline prices haven't really abated either. And I wonder at the extent of cabin fever when you consider that we really didn't cut loose and do things as in summers past. It is really hard to spend the ever increasing admissions fees to places like Great America with the threat of being rained out after waiting over an hour in line for one ride.
Taking the dogs out early in the morning, it feels much more like September than July. My daughter is asking about bonfires and S'mores, which is really a fall kind of thing. One of two things can happen here. The first would say that fall comes early, and behind it, another tough winter. Welcome to Chicago! Winters that start at Halloween and keep right on blasting until Easter, at least. The winters that I remember growing up. Or we could suddenly transition into the warm weather that we should have had in July through the months of August and September, which will make for really cranky children who feel totally cheated by the seasons. We could potentially have one of those blistering Septembers that use up snow days for the schools that haven't air conditioning. (By the way, how did we survive education in the absence of AC?) Or the kids could be modeling the new snow parkas in October. Sitting out on the deck with my coffee and realizing I should have put it in the thermal mug makes me wonder which it will be? Any guesses?