Woog's World: Hell hath no fury like a cruel winter scorned
Published 8:59 am, Friday, February 27, 2015
What a summer it's been! I don't generally complain about the weather, but this has been ridiculous.
Of course, this maddening string of hot -- no, blazing -- days has been going on far longer than any of us care to think about. For months now, the weather has been too hot to handle. It's as if we offended some kind of gods, and now they're taking out their fury on us. They've thrown a hot, humid, hazy blanket over the entire East Coast. And they show no sign of taking it off.
I can't remember the last time I headed down to Compo Beach. Without wind, the water doesn't seem to move. It's so uninviting, even the waves have given up.
Besides, who wants to venture down to the shore? The sand burns right through your flip-flops. I think even the most fire-resistant Indian fire-walker would say, "Thanks, but I'll stay right here in the car." With, of course, the air conditioning blasting, and the windows rolled tightly up.
But what would you look at? Forget people-watching. There is not one person to watch. It's been weeks since anyone thought of plopping an umbrella on the sand -- let alone those pop-up tents that were all the rage last summer. Parks and Rec yanked all its lifeguards, the day one of the guys got second-degree burns while blowing his whistle.
One of the best parts of a summer day at the beach -- a meal at Joey's -- is just a memory, too. That 10-day power outage last month destroyed all his inventory. Without any customers, he decided not to reorder. Now his fantastic restaurant is closed for the year.
Also closed: Camp Compo. When the third counselor passed out from heatstroke, Parks and Rec pulled the plug on the program that's been a beach mainstay since right after World War II.
All those Camp Compo kids are not the only ones cooped up inside their homes, though. With every summer camp on the East Coast closed, by order of various state governors, Westport is filled with bored children and teenagers. They can't swim in their backyard pools, because who wants to jump into scalding water? They can't visit their friends, because that would mean going outside. And those rolling brownouts are playing havoc with Internet connections all over town. So forget downloading movies, too.
I haven't been outside for 10 days. (Okay -- I have been able to pick vegetables from my garden, so I'm not starving. But I only go out at night.) The few folks I know who have ventured around town report that things are grim.
The Longshore golf course -- so lovingly tended last year -- is as brown as everyone else's grass. Even though Gov. Malloy's water restrictions are not as draconian as some other states -- we're allowed to run the taps for two hours every day! -- the statewide ban on sprinklers has had a dramatic effect on the landscape.
You could call this the dog days of summer. However, they've been going on for months -- not days. And besides, Winslow Park -- our town's favorite dog run -- is also closed. The wildfire threat is just too great.
Local businesses are doing their best to hang on. The Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce has come up with a clever, life-saving idea. Starting Monday, stores will be open "from 9 to 5" -- but in this case, 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. It may take some getting used to -- and those continuing spotty power outages will be tough to weather (ho ho) at midnight -- but it may be the only way to get the economy moving again.
Restaurants have started to get creative. Bobby Q's says its rooftop is "as far away from the sizzling sidewalk as you can get." Pink Sumo counters that its subterranean location is "the coolest place in town." Westport Pizzeria notes, "There's nothing wrong with cold pizza."
The opening of school is still a few weeks away, but officials are already making contingency plans. High school sports might be in jeopardy. With Major League Baseball canceling its season -- and the National Football League prohibiting teams from holding training camps --precedents have already been set.
Even the Westport News has been affected. Since the United States Postal Service has cut deliveries to once a week -- who can forget those scenes of postal carriers shedding their clothes, claiming "these blue shirts and shorts absorb way too much heat" -- subscribers receive the paper at unpredictable times.
This is, as President Obama memorably said -- overcome, himself, by the heat -- "one !@#$%* hot summer." Who could have imagined, last February, that a few months later we'd be wishing we could have all that snow, ice and cold back again?