Summer Lament

Aug 2, 2010 | 4 comments

Sydney, August 8, 1942

     When I was a child in Oysterville, the sun shone all summer long.  I’m sure of it.  All the pictures I have of my childhood summers – at the beach, at the bay, in the garden, on horseback, with other kids – all of those outdoor poses show shadows, so there must have been sun.  In fact, I think that we have had sun here most of the time, most of the summers of my life.  So what has happened this year?  What’s with this gray, misty weather all day, every day?
     I’ve been told it’s all Al Gore’s fault and I am willing to place the blame squarely on his globally warming shoulders.   It’s not that I doubt Mr. Gore is right about global warming (though I’ve read that some folks do) and it’s not that I hold truck with shooting the messenger.  I can even understand that an overall warming trend can be taking place even though our strip of coastline is shivering and mildewing through the summer.  Accepting and resenting are not mutually exclusive emotions.
    Most people I know are keeping a stiff upper lip about the weather.  Northwesterners do that.  Back in early September 1913, still summer by the calendar, fourteen-year-old Medora Espy wrote to a friend:
     We are having a regular winter storm.  Do you know what a storm is?  Not an Oysterville one.  You see, we get it from both the ocean and the bay.  The wind has already knocked the remainder of our cherry tree down; the cupboard of dishes in Sue’s playhouse toppled over and consequently she will have to abandon her house till next summer; a great piece of the trimmings of our house blew off; apples and pears litter the ground.  It is a real storm.  The bay is covered with white caps, the water has covered our lower meadow and you could almost go down the lane leading from our house to the bay in a dinghy.  To cap it all, it has rained night and day since Monday evening in regular torrents.  It is not an unusual storm.  The natives merely remark, “Sort of wet today.”
     I wish I could be as cheerful about this summer weather of ours, 97 years later.  But it’s hard to make upbeat remarks about gray.  “Sort of colorless” – or gloomy or monotonous or humdrum – just doesn’t do it.  So, instead, we all hope for sun and blue skies tomorrow.


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    First of all, charming, charming picture! Yes, it seems like we’ve hardly had summer this year, but given the choice between what we’ve had and what they’ve had in much of the rest of the country I’ll settle for our misty moisty days. My mother received a terrible sunburn while playing on Benson Beach in the 1920s one overcast day. The doctor who attended her chewed out my grandmother for not taking more care near the ocean.

  2. Joan Stuart Ross

    Early last week I heard on the radio, “No sun till Tuesday! Tuesday’s tomorrow!
    Love the photo of you–and your legs’ tan marks!
    Thanks for your Lament.

  3. David McColm

    Maybe I should have journeyed further North, because what I remember about growing up in Chinook and Seaview was RAIN! We did have a lot of fun playing in flooded and frozen Sand Dunes in Long Beach, also combing the beach for Glass Balls and Crab Floats after the storms! {;-D

  4. Memi

    That’s my second favorite picture of you, Sydney. My favorite is the one in your ‘Secret Garden’.


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