Season of Mud

To paraphrase a line from a story I wrote long ago, March, April and May are the cruelest months in Western New York.

Outsiders might think that January and February fit this bill.  They are the months of intense snow fall, record-breaking lake effect events and single-digit cold snaps.  Unlike December, there is no cheery holiday to justify all the blowing whiteness.  As a lifelong Buffalonian told me when I first moved here, “We get snow even after the pretty Christmas snow is all done.”

But WNYers know what is promised during the winter months.  And 9 out of 10 times, Lake Erie delivers.

If you prepare human beings for extreme conditions, they will be ready for them.  Over time, they adapt and learn to make the best of them.

But, here’s why our spring sucks: you don’t know what to expect from day to day.  Sometimes you’re not sure what’s coming hour to hour.  60 degrees and sunny yesterday?  Great.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Here’s some wet, heavy snow to remind you where you live.

Think you’re ready to put the boat in the water?  Not so fast.  Here’s a seiche for you that will take out the docks.  What’s a seiche?  It’s when Lake Erie’s winds decide to move all the water to our end of the shallow lake.  Although Erie has no tides, during a seiche the water may rise six to eight feet.  Nice, huh?


Although you may be able to sneak in a Sunday afternoon ride in that little sports car that you keep under a tarp in the garage all winter, don’t be so quick to take the Blizzaks off the rims of your SUV Abrams tank.  Still some slippery stuff coming our way.

Sick of winter blues?  Want to finally let the Harley run free?  You might as well stop by the local emergency room beforehand to reserve your spot.  Tell them that you’ll be back in two hours, and to prepare treatment for hypothermia.

Planning your kid’s birthday picnic at the local park?  Well, there’s a reason that you don’t have to pay a fee for the shelter yet.  You might also want to reserve an indoor venue…just in case things go as they normally go during these months.

I suppose you can bust the shorts out if you really feel the need to expose your pasty knees to sunlight.  However, they really aren’t appropriate attire during this season.  Not for a long time.  In fact, don’t put the hats and gloves away just yet.

Tennis rackets, golf clubs, bicycles.  I know you’re itching to use them.  But, wait a second.  We haven’t put the skis away just yet.  Besides, how much fun is it when your ball gets blown clear off the putting green as you’re preparing to sink a 25-footer?

The last snow banks are finally melting.  So that’s where my garbage can covers went. You’re picking up sticks from the yard.  You may even make a reservation for the pool guy to come out a few months from now.

But, forget about planting.  Occasional snow and cold are still on the menu.

But, the most depressing aspect of this season in WNY is the mud.  It’s everywhere.  On the ground.  In your shoes.  In your house.  In your car.

When I was growing up on Long Island, these months were characterized by beautiful weather.  The rhododendra were erupting in pearly pinks.  Crocus bulbs were pushing up from the ground like zombies in Thriller.  Fruit trees were explosions of color.

Not here.  The color is dirt.  Tree buds?  Look for them in mid to late May.  The bees don’t even bother waking up until that time.

You can’t ski.  You can’t really bike consistently.  Golf is erratic.  Water sports are right out.

I guess you can run out on the roads.  But, as regular readers of this blog can attest, runners are strange individuals.

Perhaps the swingingest tune that Count Basie ever arranged was April in Paris.  Irving Berlin celebrated spring in New York City with In Your Easter Bonnet.  Nobody’s ever gonna’ write a ballad praising springtime in Buffalo.

As the great sage Bart Simpson was known to remark, I’m livin’ it.  But, I ain’t lovin’ it.

— The Major


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