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Confessions of a weather weenie

By Susan and Biff Andrews

At the age of 70, I have become a weather weenie. I came to the realization last week on a sunny, hot, breezy day — 90 degrees or so — when I decided I didn’t want to sit under a nice umbrella on a lovely beach in a comfy beach chair with lovely young ladies everywhere with a cold beer in hand.

To quote Cole Porter, it was just “too darned hot.” Heat index around 105.

When I was in basic training in the army, it wasn’t called the “heat index.” It was — with usual military nomenclature —the “Wet Bulb Globe Temperature/Humidity Index.”

If it got to 110, we didn’t have to train. Instead they loaded us onto buses and took us to the hospital so we could all give blood. Woo hoo!

These days, I don’t go outside to do yard work when the temperature hits 85, no matter what the heat index. My yard has lots of “sweat equity” in it already. And sweat is salty and that’s not good for the plantings.

And it’s the same in winter. After a fresh snowfall on a 25-degree morning, I eschew the L.L. Bean boots, fur hat and down jacket and instead observe the scene from my kitchen, in front of a Jotul wood-burning fireplace at 78 degrees in February.

The neighbor’s grandchildren sled down the hill next door on old-time sleds and modern tubes, but I have no sudden urge to join in the fun. Just as I have established 85 as my upper limit, my lower limit is 40.

Any activity other than a quick dash for firewood is out of the question … or maybe to get the newspaper to read in front of said wood stove. I don’t spread salt on the front walkway for visitors. Salt is bad for the plantings. I’ve been cold before — very, very cold — and I didn’t like it.

Mind you, I am not confessing to having always been a weather weenie. I’ve been through a Category 4 hurricane in the back of an 18-wheeler in the Bahamas, a tornado in Suffolk in my middle bathroom, and severe thunderstorms offshore and inshore in an 18-foot boat.

I’ve snow-skied in sub-zero temperatures in Vermont, been through Death Valley at 127 degrees and fought huge fish for hours in the hot sun.

But these days I like my comfort and don’t wish to subject self or spouse to extreme conditions. We’ve both become “choicier” about our outdoor exercise.

So I now consider myself a “weather weenie,” unabashedly so, unapologetically so. In a day or two, the heat will break. I can sit on a beach then. In the winter, the snow will still be pretty when there’s an inch or two less to slog through.

Maybe I should just gauge my behavior by my dog Poot, who wants to be in the air-conditioned house at about 85 degrees and to lie in front of the wood stove at 40.

As an old dog myself, maybe I can learn from her.

Susan and Bradford “Biff” Andrews are retired teachers and master naturalists who have been outdoor people all their lives, exploring and enjoying the woods, swamps, rivers and beaches throughout the region for many years. Email them at b.andrews22@live.com.