• author
    • Debra DeAngelo

    • April 17, 2015 in Columnists

    Please let the drought end because I look dumb in wool caps

    Usually, you need a TARDIS to travel through time and space, but I did it on a plain old Boeing 737 recently. Technically, it was Pennsylvania, but it felt like the other side of The Wall. I wondered if I should don an animal skin and prepare for battle with the White Walkers.

    And yes, I know I’m mixing my geek-squee references, but I’m still in shock from having been suddenly thrust back into the dead of winter. Pennsylvanians call it “spring.” We call it “December.” The thick, overcast sky is gloomy and sullen, and there’s no sign of life anywhere, just a panorama of brown, gray and sadness. The only color is an occasional neon glow of a WaWa sign.

    (“WaWa” is Pennsylvania’s 7-11. No one has adequately explained how this chain got its name, so I must conclude that it comes from, “Wah, wah, this weather makes me cry.”)

    Chilly, gray Pennsylvania was one thing, but upstate New York was worse. It was 37 degrees when we arrived in Hudson. Thirty-seven degrees. In April. I could have died, people. I could feel the inside of my skull bones starting to freeze. Meanwhile, my native Pennsylvanian husband and his father just strolled along, oblivious to our imminent peril.

    Look, I’m a California tropical fish. It’s what I am. I make no apologies. If the temperature drops below 50, I could be floating sideways at the top of the tank at any moment.

    I had to think fast and save my own life: I had to buy a hat.

    Shit just got real.

    To a Californian, a hat is a fashion accessory, not a key to survival. What sort of medieval nightmare is this “Upstate New York” anyway?

    So. “Spring” on the East Coast. It’s even worse than summer. Turns out, you don’t have to travel to Panama or Borneo or a nasty, cruddy boys’ locker-room to find air so thick you need gills to keep from suffocating. Just go to Pennsylvania in the summer. May through August is a thick wall of heat and stifling humidity, generated from frequent explosive thunderstorms and sheets of rain that clearly send the message that God hates us and wants us all dead.

    November and March are merely gloomy gray bookends to bone-chilling ice, sleet and snow. (Which also means that God hates us and wants us all dead.) That leaves sweet, gentle April (which was fashionably late when we arrived and made her diva appearance the day before we left a week later) and storybook cool, crisp autumn in September and October.

    Let’s do the math, people. You get three good months out of 12 in Pennsylvania. Three. And maybe not even that, because April proved to be questionable. Which leaves us with a bit of a mystery: Why does anyone stay there? Don’t they know the highways go in both directions? And yet, they stay, like birds in a cage that don’t realize the door is wide open and all they have to do is flap their tiny little wings and get the hell out of there.

    Here’s a fun fact about Pennsylvania: While California has the highest number of people coming into the state from elsewhere, Pennsylvania has the highest number of people who never leave. Hardcore hedonist that I am, I can’t wrap my brain around actively choosing discomfort. Is there something intrinsically rewarding about enduring misery and suffering? I’m not Catholic, so I have no frame of reference about this.

    But, of course, I’m an admittedly biased, soft, spoiled 100 percent California-grown asshole, who views the entire country as basically two states: California and Not California.

    OK, maybe three. Hawaii is pretty cool.

    Yup, I’m a California girl, through and through. I think this is the best place on earth. But here’s the thing. I recognize that I may have to leave one day. Live in Pennsylvania, even. Because Pennsylvania has something California doesn’t: Water.

    Water is everywhere back there — literally flowing from cracks in the rocky hillsides next to the highways and gushing down the roadside. Rivers and streams are full to the banks, and get this: Water actually falls from the sky in little droplets back there. Crazy stuff, right?

    It gets weirder: “water conservation” is unheard of. Not on their radar. Water? Pssshhh… let the faucet and hose run full blast, spray it everywhere just because we can. Water. Bah. Who needs it.

    California does, that’s who. Forget the Keystone Pipeline for transporting gas. Flip that thing around and start piping water out west.

    If there’s one thing my sweet native Pennsylvanian husband and I aren’t on the same page about, it’s water. The worst fight we ever had ignited when I came home one day and found him in the garage brewing beer, while allowing the hose to run full blast into the gutter.

    I know. Every native Californian reading that just gasped and recoiled in horror.

    I freaked OUT.

    As in “you’re siphoning the souls of newborn kittens!!!” freaked out.

    He just shrugged. What’s the big deal.

    Short version of this story: No beer has been brewed at this house since.

    But, years later, he’s become a California transplant, and he’s well aware of our dire drought, fearing that the state and our property values may dry up and turn to dust. He hints about getting out while we can and moving to Pennsylvania, where there’s water, water everywhere.

    What if drought is the new normal here? Would California become like — shudder — Arizona? A barren hellscape dotted with cactus, cattle skulls and Republicans as far as the eye can see? Isn’t their state motto “Abandon hope, all ye who enter”?

    So: which one? A dusty, lifeless wasteland of hardcore conservatism or an environmental bipolar disorder of tropical suffocation and polar snowstorms? I suppose Pennsylvania gets the nod over New Arizona. At least Pennsylvania offers a variety of misery. And besides, I look better in a wool cap than a Stetson.




    • I could have written this but not as well. Here in Asheville where I have been residing for almost 2 weeks, the rain has come in some way almost everyday. It blasts warm heat as the droplets fall. The colder it is, the less rain. Why I have no clue. The rivers here are also high and this is April Springtime. The tulips are just blooming, saw some along the roadway, if you can imagine sprouting like weeds. The lushness of the Blue Ridge Parkway takes my breath away but I am also a California native and it is what I know. But maybe as you say years from now I will sell it all and invest in seasons and this would be where I might end up as it is milder in the winter and doesn’t snow that often, And you can’t beat the friendliness of the people.

        • Maya North

        • April 17, 2015 at 3:43 pm
        • Reply

        In Missouri, which is climatologically similar to NC, we called that the monsoon season. It’s deeply unfortunate that Missouri is also in the midst of a dire, years-long drought. It’s a gorgeous state, long underrated by people who only see beauty in the post-card panoramas of the west. I loved the monsoons — I used to go out in a swimsuit and lie on the warm, warm pavement and let the flooding waters just wash over me. Later, when my hair finally dried, I had the wildest gypsy curls — something about the rainwater…

      • Madge – you left California???? Where are you?
        Maya – OK< that sounds sort of cool. As long as there isn't this "Winter in April nonsense."

          • Maya North

          • April 18, 2015 at 6:09 pm

          Debra, we sort of have winter lite for 9 months out of the year. Either you’re built for it or you’re not. We try to keep our summers a secret — they’re glorious. <3

      • Maya North

      • April 17, 2015 at 3:39 pm
      • Reply

      I grew up in Missouri — it’s just like that, only actually hotter. Yes. Really. Hotter — and teeming with things that sting and bite and are quite, quite poisonous. Yet, tell people that western Washington State has only one poisonous spider and that so shy it’s rarely seen, all they can do is shudder and say “It rains 9 months out of the year.” Yes, it does, I say, grinning smugly. From September to June. It rains. And it rains. And it’s gray and dank and chilly. You don’t want to move here. Really. You don’t. It rains here All The Time — and we count on it to keep people away… 😉

      • Rain… I have heard stories of rain. Tell me… what is it like?

          • Maya North

          • April 18, 2015 at 6:07 pm

          To me, it’s delicious — the sound, the scent, the balm to the skin, the pristine air. I even love how it starts getting dark at 3:30 pm in November. For others, it’s a death to the soul. It’s all relative to temperament, I think. <3

    • Can I come live in your garden shed??!?!?!?! Oh the MISERY the DEATH

      • Just go West, young lady!!! I don’t have a garden shed, but I would put one up for you! Being cold and wet all the time SUCKS!

      • Donna Hanna

      • April 20, 2015 at 8:52 am
      • Reply

      Great story Debra! I live south of PA in the beautiful mountains of WV, in a very high valley, on top of a very windy hill….our humidity level isn’t like PA, and no matter the summer when the sun sets the temps drop like a rock and you never leave the house in the dead of July or August without a jacket for just in case you are out after dark! It’s rarely above 85 ever, nights in the very low 60’s or 50’s, but I love where I live. Yeah winter kinda sucks, but you get used to it. Everyday I remind myself it’s one day closer to spring, and like bears, you learn to hibernate…..
      I loved this story, looking forward to reading more! @susiebo14

      • Glad you liked this column! There is PLENTY more to read on iPinion – my columns and columns from many others! As for cold weather…. nope… I can’t even. I just can’t!

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