It’s the middle of summer, in Eugene, Oregon, the place and time with the best weather I’ve ever seen, and that includes Maui, southern California, and the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s just really nice all the time. I’ve noticed, though, that people who live here don’t seem to appreciate it. We spend all winter griping about the cold and the rain and then most of the summer griping about the heat. The thing is, it never really gets cold or hot here. It only gets cold enough to snow a few times each winter. I lived with Max Orhai, who is from Montana, through my first winter here and he liked to say “You call this winter?” and walk around in T-shirts. And this week is projected to be blisteringly hot: in the mid 90s. (Canadians, 95F = 35C.) Where I grew up, in the Mojave desert, it doesn’t drop into the 90s until well after sundown, and it is a blessed relief.

I think part of it is that these moderately hot temperatures do not force us to learn to act appropriately during the heat of the day. 105F is like an oven if you’re trying to do yard work (without dousing yourself with the hose every fifteen minutes, at least), but it’s actually pretty pleasant sitting quietly under a tree, mostly unclad, with a cool drink. And each little breeze is a wonderful experience.

But we also acclimate. One summer in the Bay Area I remember hearing that people had died of heat stroke during a temperature spike that got into the low 90s. They weren’t just griping; their bodies got too hot. And I remember my first day on Maui: My friends and family took me on a wonderful, balmy, lightly clouded hike through the bamboo forest, complaining and apologizing the whole way about the weather. I had left Joshua Tree in February, with early mornings in the 20s (Canadians, 25F = -4C), and here it was in the low 60s and everyone was miserable but me. (Los Angeles is the same. When I visit my brother Ely, he will apologize about the weather if there is a wisp of cloud in the sky—this in the winter, when I probably haven’t seen the sun in weeks.) In six months, of course, I was the same way. I was embarrassed, but almost any variation in temperature was uncomfortable. 80F was oppressively hot and 60F had me shivering.

As for Eugenians, and maybe Pacific Northwesters, let’s get our act together. As I see it we have two options. 1) Admit that these 90+ degree days are perfectly normal around here, and are exactly what we were craving all winter and enjoy the heck out of them. 2) Admit that the only season we can actually enjoy in this region is spring, not because the weather is more pleasant, but because the ongoing dismal winter weather makes it easy to appreciate the occasional sun and relative warmth.

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