THE SUMMER WIND

SONGS THAT CAME BLOWIN’ IN, by Rich Paschall


If you visited this space last Sunday, you saw the top Summer Songs as given by the musical genius, Brian Wilson.  Those may have been songs that evoked thoughts of summer for Brian, but some were a real stretch of the imagination to me.  I promised you songs that are really about summer.

Summertime by George Gershwin is arguably the most beloved summertime song ever. Great singers from Billie Holiday through Janis Joplin recorded hit versions of the song. Originally written by Gershwin for the 1935 modern opera, Porgy and Bess, rock and opera stars alike have recorded it. Guinness World Records claimed it to be the most recorded song ever. I’m sure you’ve heard it and probably have a favorite version.

When the Beach Boys put out a new album for their 50th anniversary, they served up a perfect piece of nostalgia with Summer’s Gone, written by Brian Wilson. He took lead on the record and in performance.  Unfortunately, they did not do it throughout the anniversary tour and there’s only one fan video from the last stop I can find.  Therefore, this tribute through old and new pictures will have to serve:

Now, the countdown.

10. Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer, Nat King Cole, 1963.  If I heard it once, I heard it a million times (as the saying goes) while growing up.  I guess we must really have liked it. Cole was alive then and would turn up on variety shows to perform this.  Unfortunately, variety shows have disappeared.
9.  A Summer Song, Chad and Jeremy, 1964. They were part of the “British Invasion” and this was their biggest hit.
8.  Summer Nights, from the play and movie, Grease.  It was “the word” for John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.  If you can look past all the people who killed this song in karaoke, it might still be a favorite.
7.  In the Summertime, Mungo Jerry, 1970  The song filled with odd sounds and rhythms was a mega-hit for the British group.
6.  Hot Fun In The Summertime, Sly and the Family Stone  This one was at the top of the Brian Wilson list.

5.  Surfer Girl, the Beach Boys  This early Beach Boys hit remained a fan favorite through the years.  Almost 50 years after first recording it, they could still perform the harmonies with ease.  Well, if not with ease, then at least with a lot of coaching by Brian:

4.  Summer Rain, Johnny Rivers, 1968  It didn’t make it to the top of the charts, but it is one of those songs that keeps getting played.  Now in his 70s, Rivers is still performing his many hits.

3.  Summer Wind, Frank Sinatra, 1966  Wayne Newton first recorded the song in 1965, but it is Sinatra who had a hit the following year.

2.  Summer Breeze, Seals & Crofts, 1972  Written and performed by Jim Seals and Dash Crofts.

1.  Summer in the City, The Lovin’ Spoonful, 1966  Released in July 1966, by August it was number 1.  The overplayed summer anthem included a car horn and jackhammer sounds to let you know you were in the city.

What are your summer favorites?

AN ARRAY OF PAST FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOTD – April 23 – Past Flowers

It’s another grey, cold day. I’m not yearning for flowers as a dedicated gardener. I just long for color. It has been gray and often very dark gray almost all the time since last December. No snow all winter. A little in late autumn and very early December, then nothing until … April?

Solomon’s Seal

I cannot entirely blame climate change for our messy, cold, wet spring because spring is an awful season in New England. Everyone used to call it “Mud Season.” First, you’d get snow that lasted from Thanksgiving until late March or mid-April, then it would melt, often accompanied by torrential rains and a wet basement.

I also comforted myself by pointing out to me that at least we weren’t going to run out of water. Because from May or June through August, there was little or no rain at all.

Lilac

We went one year with not a single rainy day in May to one of two in June, so by August everything was tinder-dry. We were lucky to not have any fires. We did have a pretty big one last month, but they got it put out fast. Afterward, it rained heavily for a few days, which really put the sodden finishing touches on it.

Columbine

We had a ridiculously warm winter with the kind of torrential rain and wind we normally reserve for our so-to-speak spring. Then, it turned cold. Most of the winter was in the fifties and sixties and periodically, the 70s.

As soon as it became “technically” spring, the temperature at night dropped into the 30s and occasionally even colder and even in the middle of the day, it was only in the low 40s. This can be bearable if the sun would shine. I don’t need sun every day, but once in a while would be nice, especially if we got two days in a row without a storm!

Since our flowers are more than a little pathetic, I thought I’d find flowers of the past. Maybe I’ll feel warmer. You think?

Chinese lily

The Flowers

From Child’s Garden of Verses

– – –

All the names I know from nurse:

Gardener’s garters, Shepherd’s purse

Bachelor’s buttons, Lady’s smock

And the Lady Hollyhock

Tiny trees for tiny dames —

These must be fairy names!

Tiny woods below whose boughs

Shady fairies weave a house;

Tiny tree-tops rose or thyme,

Where the braver fairies climb!

Fair are grown-up people’s trees,

But the fairest woods are these;

Where, if I were not so tall,

I should live for good and all.

THE GREAT WHITE HURRICANE OF MARCH 11, 1888 – Marilyn Armstrong

Today is my birthday. It’s also the 132nd anniversary of the worst blizzard to ever hit the east coast of the United States. Early March is frequently stormy and snowy. Blizzards are not unusual, though typically, snow melts quickly in the spring.

I appear to have been destined for snowy climes. This is not only the story of a storm, but a cautionary tale to never forget winter isn’t over until the daffodils are in bloom. You can never overestimate how dangerous weather in this region can be, especially in the spring when wind patterns become unstable.

I was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 11. There had been a blizzard a few days before, but apparently, it wasn’t a problem because I was safely born in Brooklyn Women’s Hospital. Nonetheless, throughout my childhood, no one in my family ever forgot to mention the blizzard that had hit before I was born. They called me “the blizzard baby” and everyone still talked about it. It was memorable.

Early March is a fine time for big snowstorms in the northeast. March 11, 1888, brought the biggest winter storm to ever hit the region. Known locally as the Brooklyn Blizzard of 1888 and up and down the east coast as the Great White Hurricane, it is my birthday blizzard, a foretaste of Marilyn to come. Or something like that.

Boston’s downtown crossing right after the 1978 blizzard – 28 inches

It was the worst blizzard to ever hit the city of New York. It broke records from Virginia to Maine. It remains one of the worst — and most famous — storms in United States history.

Accumulations of 40 to 50 inches were recorded. It’s hard to picture how much snow that is unless you’ve been through a few really big snowstorms. The deepest snow from a single storm in my life was 34 inches. That’s only a bit more than half the amount of the 1888 blizzard. Despite all the changes and improvements to technology and infrastructure, that amount of snow can paralyze us today.

It’s more snow than any infrastructure can handle. Did I mention snow is heavy? 50 inches on a standard roof might cause it to cave in.

It wasn’t merely a snowstorm. The superstorm included sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds. It was one of those occasions when people get put in their place, forcibly reminded of how strong Mother Nature is.

The storm blanketed areas of  New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. It carried with it sustained winds of more than 45-miles per hour. It produced drifts in excess of 50 feet high. My house, at its peak, is about 40 feet, so so we are talking about drifts as high as a three-story building. All forms of transportation were stopped. Roads and railroads were unusable. People were trapped in their houses for up to a week.

The Great White Hurricane paralyzed the Atlantic coast from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine. The storm extended all the way up into the Atlantic provinces of Canada. The telegraph went down, leaving major cities including Montreal, New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Boston without communication for days to weeks. Because of the storm, New York began putting its telegraph and telephone wiring underground to protect it from future disasters.

The seas and coastlines were not spared. In total, from the Virginia coast to New England, more than 200 ships were grounded or wrecked and more than 100 seamen died.

130 years later, no winter storm has yet topped the big one of 1888. My special storm!

THE CHANGING SEASONS, FEBRUARY 2020 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons, February 2020

It has been a dreary February. To be fair, February is usually dreary, though it normally gets more snow. We didn’t get any snow in either January or February which is a record for the past 100 years. We did, however, get a lot of rain, so at least we won’t run out of water anytime soon.

An indoor garden

I didn’t get out much. It was dreary, dull, gray, and wet. Inside, I could take pictures of birds and flowers and my brand new quilt cover. I’m pretty sure I took other pictures, too, but I’m not sure what they were.

Macro Orchid

So first, let’s get to the orchids which have been blooming very well and there is suddenly a second branch with a lot more buds. Maybe this will be a long blooming period. Hope so!

Moving along, let’s take a look at the birds. This has been the month of Goldfinches. Red Finches too and the periodic visit by Nuthatches, Chickadees, woodpeckers of three varieties, Doves, Flying Squirrels, regular non-flying squirrels.

Now, a few cactus blooms …

My exciting new bedroom:

The new bedroom

And of course the concert we went to see with Ron and Cherrie, conducted by Dr. Anton Armstrong, Garry’s baby brother. It was a brilliant concert — and Anton was amazing.

And then we were on the road, to and from Ellin and Tom’s place in Connecticut.

Meanwhile, guess what Garry is working on?

What does this mean?

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

  • The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):
  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.
  • If you do a ping-back to this post, Su-Leslie can update it with links to the other posts.

WINTER BLUES – SWO8 BLUES JAZZ AND WINTER IN NEW ENGLAND – Marilyn Armstrong

JANUARY! WE’VE GOT THE WINTER BLUES!


First published Feb 15, 2015 – YouTube

My collaborator, Leslie Martel of swo8 Blues Jazz did the work. She composed the music and wrote the words. She also put the video together. Posted it to YouTube. I think that’s all the work. I merely supplied photographs.

It hasn’t been a memorable winter except for it being mostly warmer than usual with sudden patches of very cold weather. A little snow, a lot of rain. One day it’s springtime warm and the next? Zero and a lot lower than that. You think the climate is changing? Nah.

This video is called Winter Blues, a unique, fun collaboration between me and composer-musician swo8 Blues Jazz.

Cardinal in the snowy branches

Up to the rail having jumped from the tree

Before this longest yet, ironically, shortest (by the length of day) month is finished, I hope to have more winter photographs. It’s not that I love snow. I just want my seasons back where they belong.

Since Leslie ran her copy of this today, I thought I’d run this tomorrow. Wait, this IS tomorrow!

SPRING IN THE VALLEY – CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Spring Scenes and flowers of the day

We don’t have much of a spring season here. It tends to stay cold until suddenly in May, the leaves pop out of the trees and everything blooms during one, sunny midday. The process takes just a few hours. It’s amazing. One year, it was winter when we went into the grocery and summer when we came out.

Autumn to winter can be like that too. Garry and I went out for lunch in Boston wearing tee-shirts and shorts,. Two hours later, we came out and it was near freezing, We ran home — which, fortunately, wasn’t very far.

We do get spring flowers, though. And birds. I hope that will count because otherwise, I’m just out of luck!

Harbinger of spring – our purple crocuses

Columbine

More yellow daffodils

The Goldfinch turning bright yellow for mating season.

Spring along the river

Our last Tulip.

More bright Goldfinch

Baby oak leaves and a very blue sky

Along the fence, Forsythia flowers

And the House Finch turns brighter too

Spring on the Mumford River

Solomon’s Seal

Springtime on the Commons

FOTD – January 14, 2020 – Daffodils in Bloom

WINTER BLUES – SWO8 BLUES JAZZ AND A NORTH AMERICAN WINTER – Marilyn Armstrong

 IT’S JANUARY AND WE’VE GOT THE WINTER BLUES!


First published Feb 15, 2015 – YouTube

My collaborator, Leslie Martel of swo8 Blues Jazz did the work. She composed the music and wrote the words. She also put the video together. Posted it to YouTube. I think that’s all the work. I merely supplied photographs.

This video is called Winter Blues, a unique, fun collaboration between me and composer-musician swo8 Blues Jazz.

Mrs. Cardinal

As Aldrich breaks off from Route 146A

Before this longest yet, ironically, shortest (by the length of day) month is finished, I hope to have more winter photographs. It’s not that I love snow. I just want my seasons back where they belong.

THE “OLD PERSON” WEATHER REPORT – Marilyn Armstrong

These days, watching television and seeing even the finest meteorologist give a forecast that is everything other than summer would be a lot funnier if it didn’t mean that climate change is hitting this area — New England —  harder than it is hitting other places in the world.

Nobody ever said it would hit every place equally at the same time, although somehow that’s how I imagined it.

This idea came to me as I commented to Garry that my sinuses were throbbing, my lower back felt a little better than it had earlier, but both hips were pulsing in pain. also, I have a massive headache and both eyes feel like someone poured sand into them. Translated into meteorologist-ese, it means:

Chipping Sparrow

Humidity is rising, barometric pressure is dropping, probably fast. Temperature is falling quicker than my head can handle and the air, for the moment, is very dry (eyes), probably because I ticked up the heat by a couple of degrees.

I suddenly foresaw a new kind of weather report. Traditional and “old person” weather.

First, the modern, up-to-date scientific meteorologist gives his report. Maps, stats, wind directions, where it’s coming from, going to. When we’ll get sleet, freezing rain, blinding snow, less blinding snow, total amounts from Connecticut through Maine. How much of whatever falls will fall on us?

How long will it last?

Next snow?

By the time he’s done, he has forecast every possible form of winter weather and all anyone knows it that is will be cold, wet, and ugly. I better make a new doctor’s appointment in the morning. No matter how good a driver Garry is, he isn’t the only one on the road. There are an awful lot of people who don’t “get” that simply slowing down would prevent a lot of weather-related accidents. Four-wheel-drive doesn’t help on ice or sleet.

The weather report’s not over yet. Winter weather reports take up at least half our news broadcast, just as — when one of our teams is winning — sports takes up at least half the report. Especially baseball and football.

Photo: Garry Armstrong –Winter at home

Part two of the report has no stats, numbers, or maps. There’s an old person, male or female —  both? — in comfy chairs, rambling on a bit. Local color. “Remember that 24 inches we got on April 1st in the 1990s? That was some storm … and it all melted in three days. Lots of flooding,” she says.

“My right shoulder is bad,” he says. “Suppose that means cold with snow.”

“My spine hurts bottom to top. Rain first. Likely sleet, then snow. The boiler is in overdrive, so temps are dropping. Bad day tomorrow. Coming from the west. so it’s packing a lot of water. Unless we get lucky, we’ll have a nor’easter along the coast. Good thing we don’t live on the coast anymore, eh?”

“We’ll get twice as much snow as they get along the coast, but at least we won’t flood.” says the old guy.

“Not yet,” she points out. “When it melts, it’ll be dicey.”

“Figure six inches at least, depending on how much sleet and freezing rain we get before the snow. With the falling temps? Gonna be black ice under the snow. Time to cancel that appointment with the doctor.”

Everybody over fifty will relate. Anyone who plays sports will get it. What’s more, we will be accurate — at least locally. Can’t do national forecasts, but we can tell you how it’s gonna be right here in the lower Massachusetts section of the Blackstone Valley.

A heating pad really helps.

MORE OF GARRY’S WORLD IN WHITE – Garry Armstrong

I took a lot of pictures and each day Marilyn processes a few. Then I post them. This is mostly Aldrich Street, down the road from the house — and then, our house. With bushels of snow.

Down by the bar at the end of the road

As Aldrich breaks off from Route 146A

A bench on the Common with snow

Our 1928 Fordson tractor

Looking for work?

Home sweet home with our mailbox and our across the street neighbor’s mailbox

Oh, look! Mail!

Home. With snow.

We’re expected warm weather, rain, very cold weather, a bit of snow, a bit of sleet, more warm weather. These days, a forecast is everything you can think of that isn’t summer in one ten minute narration on television.

And if you wait until the end of the news, they will have revised it. Completely. Isn’t it great that there’s no such thing as climate change?

DRY LEAVES THAT FALL BEFORE THE WINDS – Marilyn Armstrong

I am not as nostalgic about the past as many people. I had a difficult and often unpleasant childhood. It’s hard to put aside the unhappy childhood memories to find happy ones. They get tangled up.

Maple along the Blackstone

It is in the autumn where good memories live on. That perpetual autumn I can sometimes smell in the air as October arrives. It is probably why I love this season. Fall signals the return to school and what passed for “normal” in my world.

72-dry-leaves-112215_32

I was a New Yorker. I’m sure it was cooler there 50 plus years ago than it is today. Especially in the fall.

And, I loved school. I know this was not a popular point of view in the kid world, but I loved it. Home kind of sucked.

Crunchy on the lawn by the river

School was better. Orderly. I had assignments. Things to learn. Teachers didn’t beat students and there were very few moments of sheer terror with which to cope. Unlike home at home.

In generating fear, schoolyard bullies were amateurs compared to my father.

72-fallen-leaves_04

The thing I remember best and most fondly were the sound of the leaves crunching under my squeaky new leather shoes. The shoes always gave me blisters, no matter what salesmen in stores told my mother about the perfect fit.

I don’t know why she believed them when they told her the shoes fit, but never believed me when I told her they hurt.

Colors by the Blackstone. Photo: Garry Armstrong

Fall seems to be shrinking and disappearing. It is the most saddening part of climate change in this region. To lose the season that always brought me joy is very sad and I hope we can bring it back.

At least we are still getting some of it. Not like we used to, but a week is better than nothing.

A VINTAGE FARM TRACTOR AS GARDEN ORNAMENT – Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

Weekend Writing Prompt #120 – Vintage

This is getting to be a very vintage house. Two vintage owners, three dogs, two of them vintage (13). The house isn’t new either. Of course, I collected (now re-homing) ancient Chinese porcelain from Neolithic to Qing. Anyone want to start a collection? I’m not asking for money, just a good home and you pay the shipping costs. They don’t weigh much.

I’m just worried that they need a safe place to continue their very long lives and won’t wind up in a dumpster after I’m gone.

My favorite vintage item is still my 1928 Fordson tractor. It’s not repairable but it does make a nice garden decoration. Highly photogenic!

BE HOME BEFORE THE LIGHTS COME ON – Marilyn Armstrong

When I was growing up … and even when my son was growing up in the 1970s, kids went out to play. Alone. Unsupervised. Unstructured. Disorganized with not a single adult to keep an eye on us. We built “forts” and “clubhouses” out of crates and old boxes and anything we could find that mom wouldn’t miss.

We played stickball with old, pink Spalding balls that were often long past bouncing or even being “round.” You didn’t go and buy a “stickball set.” You found an old broomstick and someone had a ball, or what used to be a ball, or you all chipped in and bought one in the local (!) toy store.

The dock at River Bend

Remember toy stores? Not “Toys R’ Us.”

Local shops where you could buy a ball or a bat or a Ginny doll for a few cents or a few dollars. The shopkeepers were always grumpy old guys (probably a lot younger than we are now), but they had a gleam in their eye. If you don’t like kids, you don’t run a toy store.

We ran around a lot. Playing tag was basic. Even dogs play tag. “Catch me if you can,” you shouted and off you went. If you got tagged, you were O-U-T. But if you could run fast enough, you could grab whatever was “home” and one shouted “Home free all!” and everyone was back in the game.

There was Hide and Seek, another classic. Someone hid, everyone hunted. You had to be careful. If you hid too well, your friends might get bored looking for you and go do something else. But no one’s mother came to complain that you were being bullied. This was stuff you dealt with because there will always be bullies. Unless you were in real danger, it was better (then and now) to cope on your own. Much better than waiting for rescue.

In the real world, rescue is rare, but bullying is not.

1953 -I’m in the middle

Jump rope. There was always an old piece of laundry line somewhere. They actually call it skipping rope in other parts of the country. In the cities, the Black girls played a variation called “double Dutch” using two ropes. We all knew how to do the double Dutch ropes turning, but none of us ever mastered the technique of actually jumping. More like an intricate dance — and I also wasn’t ever much of a dancer.

Klutz that I was and am, I was barely competent on a single line, much less two. I remain in awe of how incredibly graceful, athletic, and coördinated those girls were … and are. There was a feature about them on the news a couple of weeks ago and I am no less awestruck now than I was more than 60 years ago.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Along with jumping rope came chanting. All those weird little ditties we sang as we jumped. They mostly were alphabetic and involved names and places.

“I call my girlfriend … in …” when we were playing in a group. You could gauge your popularity by when and who “called you in” to jump in tandem. Looking back, I think the problem was not unpopularity, but being a washout as an athlete. I was a slow runner, an indifferent jumper, and a terrified tree climber. On the other hand, when it came to derring-do, I was a champ. I could organize games of pretending –pirates and cowboys and outlaws and cat burglars.

We burgled, but we never stole. We weren’t thieves, just little girls trying to prove we could do it.

I don’t see kids playing outdoors these days. Almost never, except as organized groups with one or more adults supervising. Calling the plays with whistles and shouts. Children are not allowed to “go out and play” anymore. Everyone is afraid of something. Bullying, kidnappers, traffic, skinned knees. Unlike we kids who were always covered with scabs from a thousand times falling down on the sidewalk or street.

Come home with a bloody knee today and they’ll call an ambulance. Growing up, unless you appeared to have broken something, a bath was the remedy of choice and usually, beneath the dirt, was an unbroken kid.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It makes me wistful, thinking about it. My family was dysfunctional, but I could escape by going out to play.

“Bye, Ma, I’m going out,” and off you went. It was the best part of being a child. Those months between school and hours after school (much less homework and we still learned more!) contained what seemed unlimited freedom. That was the freest I would ever be in this life.

Once you were out of the house and too far away to hear your mother calling, you could do whatever you liked. You could be whoever you imagined. There was nothing you had to do, no place you needed to be. Until the streetlights came on.

Streetlight is on. Time to go home!

You had to be home when the streetlights came on. It was a fundamental law, the bottom line. Do what you will, but be home when the streetlights come on. In those warm summers of childhood, the days flowed in an endless stream.

Darkness fell late. There was more than enough time.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I don’t love summer because I’m very sensitive to heat. I actually feel sick when I get hot because my sweat glands don’t work properly and I rarely sweat. Great savings on antiperspirant bills but it sucks when everyone else is happily sitting outside in the sun and I’m stuck inside with the air conditioning.

Apple Blossoms

So, summer is not my favorite time, even though I have a boat and summer is the prime boating season. I spend most of my boat days – you guessed it – sitting in the air-conditioned cabin, often by myself. Even my loyal dog, Lexi, who usually follows me everywhere, lays in the sun on the deck on a nice day and abandons me to the interior of the boat.

Daffodils

But spring is great. The obvious joy of spring is watching the grass and the flowers and the leaves bloom, turning the world from grey to a rainbow of colors.

Spring!

Spring is when my waterfall is fully flowing. I can open the windows to hear that wonderful sound throughout the house. In the summer, the stream usually dries up since we have less rain and more heat. So the view from my window is glorious – a picturesque waterfall in the middle of a continually greening wood.

The stream

Another, more pedestrian plus of spring is putting away my darker and heavier winter clothes and pulling out the bright-colored clothes of this bright-colored season.

I pay particular attention to my spring/summer wardrobe because when I hang out on the boat, I schmooze with people every day, as opposed to winter when I can go days without seeing anyone other than Tom. And when I make my rounds to the Post Office and the local stores and coffee shop, people can see what I’m wearing because I’m not wearing a coat that covers up what is underneath.

Brighter colors of spring

Not wearing socks is another wardrobe benefit of spring and summer.

My socks bunch up all the time and I have to take my shoes or boots off regularly to adjust them so I can walk comfortably.

There’s also the problem of navy versus black socks. I can’t seem to tell the difference in my bedroom, but as soon as I get downstairs, I can tell immediately that I’ve picked the wrong one and have to go back upstairs and change. (Yes, I care!)

Sock drawer, abandoned in the spring

Not wearing a coat or a sweater is also a spring thing. Outside, the temperature is perfect (same in the early fall) so no outerwear is necessary.

I don’t have to wear a sweater inside because the air conditioning everywhere isn’t at full blast as it is in the summer. I always carry a sweater with me throughout the summer in case I am subjected to frigid A/C’s.

Sweaters necessary indoors in A/C weather

Spring also means that the many local farms in my town reopen their markets and I can get beautiful, fresh produce and other gourmet treats, right in my backyard. The freshly baked bread is awesome!

In the offseason, I have to drive 20 minutes each way to a supermarket to even get an onion or a potato. Now these staples, as well as the seasonal fruits and vegetables, are just a few minutes away.

Tom is happy in the spring because he can start working on the boat, preparing it to go back in the water in May. So spring has a lot going for it in my world. I don’t hate winter, like most people, and I love snow, but spring really is a lot better.

Except for the hordes of tiny black ants that invade my kitchen every spring. Here they come! Get out the ant traps!

STORM STORIES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

There are many interesting storm stories in my family history, starting with my Mom as a young woman. Sometime in the mid-1940s, before she married my dad, my mom and her friend Ethie were staying at my father’s summer house in the woods in Easton, Connecticut. There was a terrible storm raging outside, complete with brilliant lightning and crashing thunder.

Mom before she married my father

To wile away the time, they listened to the radio. That night, the radio drama piece that was on was a scary story about a woman alone in the woods on a stormy night. In the play, there was a sudden knock on the door. Cue the ominous music. In real life, there was a sudden knock on the Connecticut door, accompanied by an eerie silence. Then there was another knock.

Mom and Ethie nearly jumped out of their skins! They weren’t expecting anyone so they were terrified. They ran into the kitchen and each grabbed a heavy pot to use as a weapon, if necessary. They bravely approached the door. Ethie stayed behind the door and my mother opened it, pot brandished.

There stood a drenched man – Ethie’s boyfriend! He was worried about Mom and Ethie being alone in a secluded house so he decided to check in on them. Instead of the warm welcome he anticipated, he almost got his head bashed in with a pot!

Ethie with me as a baby

The earliest storm I remember happened when I was about six or seven years old. Again, we were in the Easton house and there was a hurricane that caused the power to go out. I don’t remember much except that I thought this was a great adventure. I loved watching my parents improvise to keep us warm, fed and entertained.

My dad lit a fire, which he rarely did. Our fireplace was mainly there for decorative purposes and often had flower pots or decorative objects in it instead of wood. That night it got to be a real fireplace with a real fire. That in itself was a treat for me. Then Dad proceeded to cook salami on a stick over the fire. It’s the only time in my entire life that I remember seeing my father cook. And I’ve never heard of anyone choosing to cook salami over an open fire. But it made a delicious sandwich!

Dad and me when I was around five

In my teen years, another hurricane knocked out the power in Easton and this crisis went on for days. My mother arranged with the local butcher to store her frozen meat in his freezer so it wouldn’t go bad. We had filled the bathtubs with water so we were able to flush the toilets.

Me at around fourteen or fifteen

When the tub water ran out, my mother got a clever idea. We could drive down to the pool (which was at the bottom of the hill that the house stood on) and bring pool water up to the house. So we took our biggest, cast iron pots with handles, and filled them at the pool. The problem was that the ride back to the house was on a bumpy, dirt road. We tried to drive slowly and carefully, but by the time we got back to the house, most of the water had sloshed onto the floor of the car.

Not an efficient solution.

Our pool

As we were trying to figure out how many trips we would have to make to solve our toilet flushing problem, the power miraculously came back on! We often laughed about this creative but flawed McGyver moment!

Another memorable storm story happened when I was a teenager. My mother and I were driving from our apartment in New York City to our house in Easton in a raging blizzard. The snow and the wind created total whiteout conditions. We couldn’t see two feet in front of us. We literally had to get out of the car to figure out where the road was and which way it went.

This was how bad the visibility was!

I had anxiety issues so this could have been a terrifying, stressful experience. But my mother was an upbeat, positive person with a wicked sense of humor.

She turned this situation into a silly game. I remember laughing hysterically as we blindly inched our way up the highway. Somehow Mom made it feel like an episode of “I Love Lucy.”

From then on, I tried to model my crisis behavior on my mother’s. I always try to find humor in muddling through. When given a choice between laughing and crying – always go for the laugh!

Mom when I was seventeen or eighteen

One more interesting storm experience involves Tom and my boat. When hurricanes directly hit our marina, the marina staff have to take the boats out of the water, to protect them. They put them in the parking lot, on stilts, like they do to store the boats over the winter. This happened in advance of Hurricane Sandy, in 2012. Amazingly, the small staff managed to get over 130 boats out of the water in about 36 hours.

What hurricanes can do to a marina

The crazy thing was that in the storm, the water flooded the parking lot and came all the way up to the bottom of the boats. Any more flooding and the boats would have started to float around the parking lot, crashing into one another. That would have been a major disaster. One sailboat from a nearby mooring also ended up in our parking lot, marooned when the water receded. It was a bizarre situation.

In 2011, we had lost power in the house twice, for a week each time. That’s when we decided to get a generator. It took forever to get it installed and it was operational just a week before Hurricane Sandy hit the next year.

Since then, our storm stories have been boring – the power goes out and then ten seconds later, it comes back on again. We often still lose phone lines and internet service, so it can still be an inconvenience. But nothing to write home about – or write a blog about!

This is our precious generator!