Collier’s Weekly: Thank God It’s Not Summer

The middle months of the year are too hot, too busy and too laden with have-fun-or-else pressure to actually enjoy. Fall is the peak of the calendar.
Fall Dicello


On the day I wrote this, temperatures in Pittsburgh inched close to 90 degrees — a final assault from summer on our collective sense of comfort.

I’m told that there are those that consider the sunniest months of the year to be the best. Allegedly, there are those that crave the solar heat, seeing it as an invitation to swim, to tan, to generally bare skin and soak up the sun.

This point of view is baffling to me.

While I generally regard the sun as a cosmic death ray determined to beam deadly radiation into my flesh, I acknowledge that it can be nice to enjoy the outdoors during pleasant weather. I just have no idea why anyone considers high temperatures, sticky humidity and direct, blinding sunlight to be pleasant weather. To me, a 90-degree day is just a moist remix of a 10-degree day; both are equally uninviting.

Now, if it’s about 58 degrees, slightly overcast with a calm breeze? Slap me in a sweater and park me on the porch, it’s time to go outside.

Devoid of the heat of summer or the frequent rain of spring, autumn brings the most pleasant and enjoyable weather of the year. Even when people cite their favorite warm-weather activities, I counter that they’re actually better sometime around late September.

Ballgame? The last weeks of the season are the best (in fact, they play the most important baseball of the year in October — not that we’d know it around here). Kennywood? Phantom Fall Fest is the highlight of the calendar. Pleasant walks in the park? Tell me those aren’t aided by changing leaves. Going for a jog? The ideal running temperature is about 50; anything over 70 and you’re going to dehydrate.

Swimming? Well, I don’t like swimming. But I’ll bet it’s pleasant in a heated pool sometime around Columbus Day!

Moreover, trying to squeeze out the joy of summer is challenging and often irritating if it’s done when everyone else is trying to do the same thing. Why pack already full beaches, bike on a trail covered in fellow exercisers or pay the highest prices of the year for an outdoor concert? Wait until the crowds drop a bit and you’ll have a better time, even if your Instagram feed looks a little chronologically shifted.

Even vacations aren’t immune to the rule. I take two main vacations each year: One in early October and one in late January. In addition to being rewarded with cheaper flights and hotel prices, I’m traveling during periods where the destination weather is better, too. Have you ever gone to Texas, Florida or Arizona in July? Madness! Have you been to those places in January? Pleasant!

Yes, this column amounts to little more than a grumpy man complaining about the weather. (I’m not apologizing, just acknowledging.) But this is one of those areas where I truly feel like I’ve unlocked a secret code of contentment. Even if you are a sun-loving lizard, there’s no reason to limit warm-weather activities only to the most extreme days of the year; schedule your beach vacation after Labor Day. I promise it’s still sunny in Key West right about now.

And wearing a hooded sweatshirt is always more comfortable than not wearing a hooded sweatshirt. I’d wear a hooded sweatshirt at all times, were it possible. It usually is.

You know when it isn’t? Summer.

Categories: Collier’s Weekly