I ventured to the nearest Target store earlier today, and was highly entertained by the different outfits that fellow shoppers sported.
I followed a woman from the outer parking lot where we were parked near each other, and I couldn't help noticing that she was wearing her winter coat. A real, quilted, white coat with a hood. The hood was down, not over her head, but still, there it lay in all its fur-edged glory. This made me chuckle to myself because as I followed her in my light jacket, my feet made the telltale slappy-slappy sound of my slip-on plastic sport sandals, which I adore. I proudly donned them without socks this morning. Ah, ex-toe-sure.
It got better: as we neared the entrance, we passed a younger woman who was standing by her mini-van and attempting to wrestle her toddler daughter into a jacket. Which would fit neatly over her sundress with spaghetti straps. The child was fighting the extra layer and insisting it was not necessary—this as a brisk breeze further chilled the air to high-50s. A middle-aged couple scurried past, the woman dressed in heavy hiking boots with thick socks hugging her ankles over some leggings.
There were we all, juxtaposed in the strange and seasonless world of Southwestern Pennsylvania in springtime. Two days ago, it was 82. Two weeks ago, I was pelted first with hail, and then with wet snow. Nature doesn't even know what to do with a month like this. Over-eager daffodils leap out and are often flash-frozen into wilted brown blobs with hanging heads; lilacs take the chance and either amaze or depress admirers, depending on whether or not the buds were adequately shielded by a larger, tougher neighbor. The grass in our yard and most others is a strange blend of brown patches, mad dandelion growth, and tall spindly greens...with a less-than-scenic swamp lurking in every low spot around.
Sometimes I ask myself, Why do we live here? Then I watch the news, and see that we've been spared awful tornadoes thanks to our crazy hills and valleys. I hear of desert droughts and wonder why construction continues there. I remember that farther north, some folks go months without sunshine; I recall giant bugs in tropical places, higher concentrations of poisonous creatures, hurricanes that hurl things, cities that get so cold their sidewalks lie underground...
Southwestern Pennsylvania: my own little chunk of soggy, blowy Heaven.