"We like camping better!" --Raymond Alexander Kukkee

view of the north shore Critter Pond, KOA Canandaigua NY [c] 2009 jcb

Why is winter so long?

...and summer so short?

our Shasta camper at KOA 2008
Our little camper -- a nearly 30-year-old, 19-foot restored Shasta -- sits in the yard beside our garage. She's sinking into the soggy sod right now, after spending the bitter months shrugging off the wind and snow, mostly unscathed. We've had a few days with temperatures in the low sixties recently; makes me glance longingly at our old trailer, hoping for warm nights and 9 pm sunsets soon.

I no longer love winter. It's too long. We're just far enough north here, near Lake Ontario, that the cold and gray months encroach on the end of fall and the first half of spring. We joke that spring is about two weeks long. Our "leaf season" is longer than that, but prone to early snowstorms. I used to love winter -- when I was young and single and could afford to go skiing.

Now I spend the weeks following Thanksgiving waiting for summer. It's a long wait, punctuated by the six weeks of Christmas and a couple of oddly-scheduled school vacations. Once Santa has finished flying there's that long no-real-holidays time. Who celebrates Groundhog Day? It often snows on our St. Patrick's Day parade.

I hate driving in the snow anymore. We used to brave blizzards to go skiing; now that I'm older I can't see through the flakes as well. I'm approaching a million lifetime miles of driving, with about a third of them in snowy conditions. I've paid my dues, haven't I? Someday I may actually have to consider "flying south." What a terrible thought.

The only consolation to New York's seemingly interminable winters is that they force you to appreciate summer. You hear that from people who simply refuse to move to warmer climates: "I'd miss the seasons, and get sick and tired of warm sun." While that's probably true, it's probably also a fairly lame rationalization. While I'm not sure I could stomach the air-conditioned lifestyle of Floridians, I'll bet I could make do in Honolulu.

My home, however, is here in upstate NY. Most of my friends and almost all of my family are all here. Moving is expensive, emotionally demanding, and ultimately life-altering. I'll stay here, as long as the bank doesn't reclaim our house. In that event, we'd have to live in our little camping trailer. That would probably take most of the fun out of camping.

The summers here are too short, though. That's just a fact. When you balance "perfect camping nights " against "gloomy winter days" the scale always hits the table hard on the "gloomy" side. It's not uncommon for us to suffer through a solid week of sunless days between October and April. I honestly believe that people have "solar batteries" that need to be recharged regularly. I do, anyway.

For me, the beginning of NASCAR racing season signals that summer is almost here, somewhere -- Daytona, at least. All the early races are in winter-warm states at first, so we see "summer" long before it arrives in NY. Then the Masters teases us with gorgeous verdant fairways and brilliant azalea blossoms. It's hard for me to watch, when we still have bare trees and brown lawns.

Then suddenly, after a couple of "fooled ya" days above seventy degrees, it's summer in New York. The willows burst into pale green abundance first, with the hardwoods last to follow. Before we know it, the days are fourteen hours of sunshine and we're complaining about the heat. We think about buying air conditioners, knowing we won't need them for long. Our lawns need mowing twice a week.

We launch some fireworks, grill some hot dogs, take impulsive trips to nearby campgrounds , leave the TV off, and stay up 'til midnight because it's too nice out to go to sleep. We spend two weeks watering our browning lawns, worrying needlessly. And then, quietly and with little warning, our local NFL franchise team arrives for training camp at St. John Fisher College.

You know what NFL means, don't you? -- "Fall." Just like that, our summer is nearly done. We savor the final few days in the eighties, or maybe even above ninety degrees, while the merchants scream "back to school!" My wife and I frantically try to decide how we'll spend the Labor Day weekend -- camper or no camper ? Home or away?

Then the school buses return for their endless trips up and down our hill (the high school is just down the road), and we know it's over. Another summer is gone, the fleeting weekends already fading memories. We begin to watch TV shows again in the evening. We check our tires to make sure we have good "snow tread" left, and gas up the snow-blower. We park the camper in the side yard, and drain off the water lines. I think about writing an article for Helium titled, "Tips for storing your RV camper for the winter." There's that word again: winter. Where did the summer go?

copyright 2009 - all rights reserved

How about you? Do you have an opinion about camping and weather you'd like to share? If you'd like to submit your thoughts for posting, you can reach me via Comments or by using the link at the top of this page.

See my article about RV camping on Helium.com


  1. Anonymous10:05 PM

    Such a sweet, melancholy tone to your musing, Jim. I really enjoyed this one.


  2. Thanks for reading, Diane.

    There's a hint of spring in the air today, and I'm already lamenting the quick passing of summer! LOL

    Time does fly, no matter how we try to slow it down, doesn't it?

  3. Jim, living half a world away (literally!) it still sounds pretty exotic to me! We had a week of snow this year, and it's the worst weather we've had for 20 years!

    I know what you mean about time flying though, each year seems to slip by faster and faster these days!

  4. Wait, Tim...

    Are you saying you DON'T get snow?? That's not fair!

    How's the weather there now? We have sunshine and sixty degrees today.