For those of you North Americans who don’t live in tropical or Mediterranean-style climates, we’re about to exit the time of year when people bitch about the cold and transition into the time of year when people bitch about the heat. Oh sure, there will be a two-week grace period where it’s 72 degrees, dry, and mostly sunny with a breeze. Then it’ll be hot and humid and everyone will forget all about how cold they were just weeks ago. That’ll go on for a while, then the 72-degree two week transition period kicks in again before brutal cold returns. Summer and winter are polar opposites and responsible for more griping than all the politicians in Washington.
Believe it or not, two of the seasons are objectively better than the other two, even if some of you don’t care to admit it. Spring and summer are superior to fall and winter. Oh sure, some of you will deny this, claiming you like hot cocoa by a fireplace, a new-fallen snow on a Christmas Eve, and crawling under the covers to warm up. We’ll get to those canards, but let’s start from the top.
1. Spring is the season of rebirth; autumn is the season of death. Yeah, yeah, leaves changing colors, apple cider, pumpkins, and a light sweater. Heck, even I can’t turn down a crisp October afternoon playing or watching football. Fall can be very charming at its absolute best. The thing is, spring at its most mediocre – warm rain, the smell of mud, the longer days - still beats autumn’s best by a long shot. Meanwhile, autumn at its worst looks a hell of a lot like Old Man Winter. And most importantly: spring only gets brighter and warmer with each day, while fall only gets nastier. Now that we’ve gotten the transitional season out of the way…
2. Stripping down is better than bundling up. In the summer, you can throw on a pair of flip flops and run to the deli to pick up a gallon of milk in a couple of minutes. Wintertime means shoes or boots, socks, long pants, a jacket, gloves, a hat, a scarf, and God knows what else. By the time you have everything on you’re tired and forgot what you got all dressed up for. This of course goes double (or half) for recreational activities – a day at the beach takes a lot less planning than a day at the ski lodge. And speaking of recreation…
3. Summer recreation beats winter reaction hands down. Swimming, sunbathing, beach volleyball, outdoor barbecues, outdoor festivals. Sounds like a lot of fun, no? More fun than skiing, ice skating, snow shoeing, ice fishing, sledding, snowman-building, and other activities generally related to staving off madness? I thought so.
4. Summertime holidays are more fun. Summer (or more generally, summertime) brings us Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. (And Bastille Day if you’re French.) In other words, holidays to let loose, fire up the grill, crack open a cold one, and celebrate the good life. Wintertime brings us Thanksgiving (awkward family dinners of dry, bland poultry), Christmas/Hannukah (read: weeks of crowded shopping malls and bad TV specials), New Year’s Eve (Amateur Night at the bars), Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day (can’t do much with these EXCEPT fly somewhere warm), Valentine’s Day (corporate-invented consumerism), Mardi Gras (Amateur Night, Part II) and St. Patrick’s Day (Amateur Night, Part III). There’s a reason summer has such a dearth of holidays: they’re not necessary. And for those of you who romanticize Christmas with images of gentle snow, reindeer, and lights, remember that Jesus was born in a desert town which in December has an average high of 57 and average low of 45. Average number of December days with snow in Bethlehem: One.
5. Summer inspires songs about fun. Winter inspires songs about depression and death. “Summertime” by Sam Cooke, “In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry, “The Summer Wind” by Frank Sinatra, “Hot Fun In The Summertime” by Sly & The Family Stone, “All Summer Long” by Kid Rock, “Summer In The City” by Lovin’ Spoonful, “The Boys Of Summer” by Don Henley, and every Beach Boys song….in other words, Fun! Fun! Fun! Even the melancholy songs of summer, “Cruel Summer” by Bananarama, and “Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran, are at least a little whimsical.
Winter gives us “Snowblind” by Black Sabbath, “Hazy Shade of Winter” by Simon & Garfunkel, “In The Wintertime” by the Steve Miller Band, “Winter” by the Rolling Stones, and these three songs I’ve never heard and don’t want to: “While I Shovel The Snow” by the Walkmen, “Tenth Avenue Freezout” by Bruce Springsteen, and a Frank Zappa tune titled – I’m not making this up - “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow.” That’s to say nothing of every obnoxious Christmas carol ad nauseum. Shoot me now.
Or, if you prefer poetry to pop music, consider that Robert Frost couldn’t resist mining winter for all its soul-crushing morbidity. He probably hated his surname and decided to take it out on future high school English students.
William Shakespeare took the high road and eloquently compared his beloved to a summer’s day.
6. Research shows that hot, humid conditions reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, while below freezing temperatures may cause dementia and kidney failure. Okay, I made that one up. I would, however, like to point out that warmth and moisture are definitely better for your skin, sinuses, and yes ladies, your hair. You cannot seriously prefer static electricity and dandruff to a few curls. A little sweat is good for you – it cools you off. It’s sexy! I can see I’m getting nowhere with this, so I’ll move on.
(Rest assured that if you still prefer to freeze, you can do so during summer by stepping indoors and into the Arctic blast of any air conditioner. Wait – I better shut up, I’m doing damage to my own arguments…)
7. We’re healthier in the summer. We exercise more, eat less, and eat healthier. In the winter we’re sedentary, gluttonous, and alcoholic. Don’t ask me to back this up with data; you know it’s true.
8. But what about hot cocoa by a crackling fire? Let beer be your hot cocoa, and the sun be your crackling fire.
9. If you still don’t believe me, ask yourself: which images do you prefer?
I thought so.