Many places I’ve traveled, people recite the same adage about the weather: “If you don’t like the weather here, wait five minutes.” We all laugh, even though we’ve all heard the joke before, and people apply it to anywhere, from Portland to Albuquerque.
But St. Louis, you guys. St. Louis illustrates that adage in a vivid way.
All my St. Louisan friends already know that the only time of year that the weather doesn’t wildly change is mid-summer. From June on, the question is not, “I wonder if I should wear long pants or capris today?” but rather, “How little clothing can I wear and not get arrested?” Until then, it’s only prudent to keep a sharp eye on the weather forecast, and walk around everywhere with a backpack full of extra clothes. I shall now illustrate my statement with a story.
Last Thursday, my brother Eric and I decided to go for a bike ride. I left my house that day in shorts and a t-shirt, because the temperature had peaked at about 85. Eric lives near the Katy Trail, a walking/biking path that follows the route of the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad. In warm sunshine, we took to the trail and pedaled along, chatting and watching cardinals flit from one side of the path to the other. A couple of Canadian geese crossed the road with a single fuzzy gosling in tow. I noticed that the air was getting cooler, and a few stray needles of rain alerted me of the darkening sky, but it was still warm enough to be comfortable, even in shorts.
At the 12-mile mark, we stopped at the charming little town of Defiance and ate hearty burgers at Terry and Kathy’s Inn (if you’re ever in Defiance, I highly recommend it— the food’s almost as cheap as fast food and twenty times better). While we ate, we saw rain begin to spit down, which soon turned into a full-blown torrent. “It’s okay,” I said. “I don’t mind getting wet.”
When the rain slacked off to a fine mist, Eric and I were confident it was the best time to head home. We paid our bill, asked for a bag to keep his iPhone dry, and then stepped outside.
The moment we left the warm building, the hair on my arms and legs stood on end in goosebumps. “It’s gotten a bit chilly,” I observed. “But it’s okay, I’m sure we’ll get our blood moving when we start biking.”
We hopped onto our sopping wet seats and took off onto the trail. The wind was at our back, but the breeze lashed into us from the front as well. Icy water sprayed on my backside and my bare legs as I pedaled on the wet gravel. Within five seconds, my teeth chattered and my innards quivered.
“No,” Eric said. “We’re going back. I’ll see if Dad can give us a ride home.”
I try to be tough in inclement weather, but I didn’t hesitate to agree.
Fortunately, Dad was able to come pick us up, bikes and all. While we waited for him, Eric and I sat on a patio, huddled together for warmth, and watched the rain drip from the eaves, and talked about St. Francis of Assisi and volunteer firefighters in Detroit and how cold we were and how wimpy it would be to go back inside to warm up.
By the time Dad picked us up, the temperature had dropped to 50, and within twenty minutes it was down to 46. I huddled under a blanket in the van, and when I got home, I threw on my warm boots and warm pants and warm fuzzy robe, and made myself a scalding hot burrito. It had been quite an adventure.
So the next time you want something different from the weather in St. Louis, wait five minutes. No, seriously, I mean it. Unless we’re in the middle of summer, there is a very good chance that your wish will come true.