On Wednesday afternoon in downtown Washington, in the heavenly brilliance of the noonish sun, in a soft-grassed, gentle-breezed, angel-kissed lunch hour that demands to be spent outdoors, Jennifer Rosenbaum turns to her friend Michelle Hoopes and says:
“Do you see how wrinkled this is?” She plucks at her coral short-sleeved top. “I pulled it from the corner of the closet.”
“My feet have to remain in my Toms,” Hoopes counters, pointing to her close-toed canvas shoes. The problem: When she saw that the weather was supposed to hit 90 degrees, she knew it was time to pull out a linen dress for work. But the footwear options that go with a linen dress are limited and generally involve sandals. And sandals were not an option this morning because Hoopes’s feet were not prepared for their summer debut. They were not prepared because last week it was 45 degrees. Yesterday was the hottest April 10 the city has experienced since 1922.
This weather. This weather, for which we are supposed to be infinitely grateful, has behaved completely inappropriately. It has shown no respect for seasonal transition, for the gradual preparations one must undergo to move from spring to summer. There have been no lightweight blazers, no sunny-but-cool mornings, no incidents of nippiness. There has, in fact, been no spring.
It’s parkas to flip-flops in Washington this year, and it has upended the natural order of the universe.
Example: “There hasn’t been enough time to gradually tan,” says Laura Wallach, who works for National Geographic and who, out of climatic necessity, was wearing a sleeveless work top. “I’m glowing in the dark.”
Example: “We can’t get shade yet,” comments Ashley Mergen, an office worker. She’s been trying to eat outside this week, but the trees have not kept up with the temperature, and the leaves above her Farragut Square picnic blanket are still buds.
This weather has cornered us into thinking we must eat outside, food-truck bibimbap teetering on laps, because this weather could be taken away at any moment. This weather has the audacity to make us pull summer clothes out from under the bed and mush them in the drawer with the winter clothes. The smug oppressiveness of this weather has caused every soul within the Beltway to crush down to the Tidal Basin and stare at trees, as if there will never be trees again. (We did not shave our legs for this).
“I’m not a big shopper,” says Barrett Dwyer, a consultant. Men, in their year-round omniform uniform, are somewhat insulated from weather whiplash, but not entirely. A few weeks ago, Dwyer went out and bought a couple of light jackets, an in-between wardrobe meant for breezy spring afternoons. He hasn’t worn them once.
“I hoped I would,” he says. “My hope is fading.”
“My biggest question is, is it going to last?” says Colleen Kilbride, who works for the labor movement. Winter has been over so many times already this year, snowmaggedons giving way to filiblusters. Kilbride is willing to embrace this new, hot weather, but only if she’s sure it’s staying. Until then, she’s not packing away the winter coats. She will be prepared for every type of weather that could possibly occur at any given moment.
“Until,” she thinks about it. “Memorial Day.”