Rose Jackson looked up from her section of the newspaper and turned her head to peer out of the kitchen window.
“Well, what do you know,” she said. “It’s the longest day of the year. Already.”
Andrew looked up from the sports section and followed his wife’s gaze.
“Winter is coming,” he said.
“No no no,” said Rose. “You are not allowed to say that. Not in June. Even if it’s true. And especially not if summer hasn’t yet begun. Which it clearly hasn’t.”
“I stand corrected,” said Andrew. “Summer is coming. Possibly.”
Rose heaved a sigh. “Well, it’s not the worst we’ve seen. Remember 2004? The temperature never went higher than 20° until July 18. Or 19 or whatever. We wore parkas to the Folk Festival.”
“And we were still too cold,” said Andrew. “I remember it well.” He paused. “August and September were hot though,” he recalled. “And this year we’ve already had a day where it went to 33°, so let’s not forget that.”
“I guess you’re right,” Rose had to agree. “In the annual competition for worst summer ever, this year can’t come in better than second place. I guess that’s something.”
“There’s a silver lining behind every cloud,” said Andrew. “Although it’s hard to see that silver lining when the cloud extends from Churchill, Manitoba to Boulder, Colorado.”
“I wonder if it was a year like this that inspired what’s-his-name to write that ‘Unclouded Day’ song,” said Rose.
“Probably,” said Andrew. “Although I’m not sure that song was written by what’s-his-name. I think it might have been that other guy, who’s-it.”
“You’re probably right,” said Rose. “Or possibly someone else. Whoever it was, you have to admire their obvious talent for wishful thinking.”
“Maybe this is the year we have to go south in the summer,” said Andrew, “just to get a break from the cold.”
Rose pondered that for a moment. “I don’t know about that,” she said. “How far would we go? It was 117° in Phoenix this week. A hundred and seventeen degrees is not a break from anything. It’s more like a punishment.”
Andrew looked thoughtful. “Let’s think about that for a second,” he said. “So, if it’s 17° in Winkler and it’s 47° in Phoenix, and a comfortable temperature would be, say, 23°, and 23° is one-fifth of the way between 17 and 47, so logically if we go one-fifth of the way to Phoenix, we should be somewhere where the temperature is 23°.” He paused. “So what’s one-fifth of the way between Winkler and Phoenix?”
Rose shrugged. “I don’t know. Gretna?” she said.
“Scranton, North Dakota,” said Andrew. “Gretna is only like one-twentieth of the way. It’ll only be maybe 18° in Gretna.”
“I thought Scranton was in Ohio,” said Rose.
“It is,” said Andrew. “But it’s also in North Dakota. Which is a little-known fact to everybody except the people in Scranton, North Dakota.”
“Do you think there would be any reason to go to Scranton though?” said Rose. “Other than the fact that it’s 23°?”
“No,” said Andrew. “In that regard it’s similar to Gretna.”
“I can think of good reasons to go to Gretna,” said Rose.
“Really?” said Andrew. “Like what?”
“Well, for one thing, it’s only almost in the United States. And also it’s full of the nicest people you’ll meet outside of Schantzenfeld,” said Rose.
“Well, I don’t know about that,” said Andrew. “There’s a lot of nice people outside of Schantzenfeld.”
“All this talk of Schantzenfeld reminds me,” said Rose, “that we are out of farmer sausage.”
“We can pick some up on our way back from Scranton,” said Andrew.
“You know what?” said Rose. “You know what would make me even happier than going to Scranton, North Dakota?”
“No, what?” said Andrew.
“Not going to Scranton, North Dakota,” said Rose.
Andrew thought about that for a second. “But how will we get our Schantzenfeld farmer sausage then?” he wanted to know. “Do we have to go somewhere else then that we can pick it up on our way back from?”
“We could just put on our parkas and drive to Schantzenfeld,” said Rose. “And then we could drive back with our farmer sausage. I’m sure it’ll stay frozen in the back of the truck till we get home.”
“Obviously it will,” said Andrew. “But what about the weather? We still haven’t solved that problem.”
“It will solve itself,” said Rose.
“How?” asked Andrew.
“You said it yourself,” said Rose. “Summer is coming.”