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June 15, 2014

June Gloom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I grew up in Southern California about two miles from the ocean.  Most years, after the rainy season, the coastal fog would set in.  Typically, it would be thick first thing in the morning and melt off during the day, but there would always be a little haze.  The day never warmed up that much.  We called it June Gloom.

Unlike Southern California where all of the rain falls between November and March, the precipitation in Seeley Lake falls throughout the year and doesn’t vary a lot from month to month.  The average is 1.7” per month.  Our driest month is April with 1.1” and our wettest month is June with 2.4”.  With the June rain, cool spring weather will often linger, June Gloom, Montana style.

During the spring we get both clear and gloomy days and nights.  The good thing about the clear nights is that the mornings that follow are also clear.  My living room has an east facing sliding glass door that gets first sun.   Sometime during the morning and before the days get warm, I open the blinds to let the sun in.  Clear days also warm up and, between this and the morning sun, I can regulate the temperature of the house without any additional heat. 

When a combination of cool days and lack of sun sets in, I either live in a house that’s a bit chilly, 60F give or take, or I build a fire.  I could turn on the electric wall heaters but, in my mind, that’s just missing a final opportunity of the season to enjoy the woodstove.  It won’t be long before I’ll be traipsing around opening appropriate windows to coax the house into creating a light katabatic wind to cool it off.   There won’t be more chances to build fires in my woodstove again until late September.  It’s my last chance and, generally, I take advantage of it. 

This season, June Gloom didn’t set in until the middle of the month.  We had only a few overcast nights, but no cold gloomy days.  It had been about a month since I built a fire.  Now, it’s pouring rain and 50F just about when we’d be at our daily high temp.  I am going to build the third fire in as many nights to keep the house warm.  Tomorrow, the high isn’t predicted to break 50 F, and I’ll probably keep the fire going all day.  That is rare in June, but it happens. 

Generally, a fire with a single load of wood each night works fine.  Three smallish pieces of wood for the heat and a bunch of kindling to get things started are all I need.  With this, splitting the wood---it’s mostly still winter sized---and building the fire itself take about fifteen minutes.  The fire that results, however, still allows me to come in from the dogyard, sit on the grungy old chair that remains in front of the woodstove, and again watch the ‘fire channel’ or read or lean back and listen to music while my feet, hanging next to the stove, get hot. 

Seeley’s June Gloom is characterized by cold fronts.  With these, it’s not unusual to have at least some clear skies, though these often occur at night when the sun can’t create thunderheads.  With this, we are still getting temperatures at midnight that hover in the thirties.  I can legitimately wear my light down coat, at least if I’m hanging outside for a while. 

The dogs, too, seem to like these cool nights, though I’ve always been surprised how little difference that seems to make to them.  I have let them have yard time mid day at 90 F---I had friends over and wanted to show off the gang---and they seemed totally nonplused by the heat.  Of course, they all ducked back under their platforms once yard time was over, laying on the cool ground and out of the sun.  Still, it seems that I’m the one who clings most to the cooler weather.  Not that I’m not looking forward to regular sunny days when I can go out for a run with a tank top, shorts, and still break a hard sweat.  I’ll savor that too.  But for now, I’ll build fires, throw on a jacket when I’m outside, and enjoy June Gloom, Montana style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
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