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Zan Thompson

Weathering Those Storms of Summer

July 24, 1987|ZAN THOMPSON

Do you remember spring? I'm sure it was here and the blossoms blew down the wind and daffodils opened, but this morning I'm not at all sure about summer.

By this time, I have usually greeted summer with hysterical cries and praised famous beaches and hidden coves. And I have watched my sister Patsy hover over the barbecue with soft incantations as she does something wonderful with dinner. I do not barbecue. When my husband Doug was alive, he prepared masterful barbecues and I certainly did nothing to dissuade him. That meant that all I had to do was put the baking potatoes in the oven and throw up a salad, which is the unfortunate phrase that process acquired at our house because that's what a woman across the street used to say.

Other than that, Doug's contribution to food preparation was unwrapping Cup-O-Gold candy bars. Thus, I never learned to preside over a charcoal fire. But Patsy did, because her husband, Tommy, was a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps and was often half way around the world, "fighting the infidel," as Patsy has it. So she was the barbecue master at her house and now is at ours.

Not this year. It takes the edge off outdoor dining to wear foul weather gear and leg warmers. Until today, I have been my usual sunny self, fully expecting high summer any day. This is in spite of having had to buy new windshield wiper blades last week, past the middle of July.

I hope if you're reading this, the sun is shining through your windows in the accustomed July manner. Right now, I am sitting in my woolly winter robe, which I dug out of the back of the closet because I was tired of using positive thinking to keep warm.

A week or so ago, Patsy came home and announced that the year was half over. Maybe it was a month ago she said that. Time flies when you're having fun. But her message earlier this morning was that she had heard on the radio that it was raining in El Toro. Right now it is raining right outside my window, great walloping drops as big as silver dollars.

We have all read articles about the hole in the ozone over the South Pole. But I thought that was supposed to let in the harmful rays of the sun which could cook us all. And I read something recently that said the temperate zone of our country, the vast food-growing plains of the prairie states, were in for a chill, and that the good growing weather will move up to Canada.

Furthermore, the same thing will happen in the Soviet Union, until people there think of spending their summer holiday in Siberia. Usually, tucked away at the end of such articles is a disclaimer which says something like, "This is happening at the rate of one-half a degree a century." I don't worry about such things because they are far beyond my power to add or detract and, besides, I will likely have toddled on to whatever comes next by the time it is noticeable. This time, I'm not so sure.

Another disquieting sign is that a number of the dozens of catalogues we receive have had displays of Christmas ornaments. I was sure that they were simply clearing their shelves of last year's yule merchandise.

But The Times carried an ad from unflighty Bullock's advertising an Orrefors crystal snowman. They refer to it as a "Christmas ornament." They are not suggesting it as a vacation item. Is it possible that word of worsening weather has come to the merchants while you and I are debating if this is the summer the yard furniture cushions must be replaced?

Usually, this doesn't happen until mid-September when the letters to the editor are full of anguished complaints about Christmas trees in stores.

I refuse to believe that this is a serious trend, even though I was forced to buy that fuzzy warm-up suit last week in La Jolla, which adjoins San Diego, which lays claim to the gentlest weather in the world.

I do not want to hear about Christmas ornaments. I do not even countenance the mention of Halloween candy. It simply is not time.

However, for right this minute I am going to build a fire in the fireplace and make myself a hot buttered rum instead of a spritzer.

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