Weather and Seasons

As an east coast skater, weather was always something easy to stress about.  There was a time where I checked the weather online about twice a day, then I stopped caring, it was getting to be too much, my head and my own thoughts were making it this grand thing to stress over, that ultimately, I have zero control over.  So I swore off the weather website, looked away from anything weather related, turned off weather notifications on my laptop/phone.  Still, unsolicited weather reports are near impossible to avoid.  The most annoying aspect: it’s always negative.  If you get, “Beautiful out, isn’t it?” it’s almost always followed up with, “… yeah, too bad it’s gonna rain tomorrow.”  Outside of a local skate shop making an Instagram post about the weekly weather, nobody is telling everyone they come across that it’s going to be a beautiful and sunny week, may be a little cold, may be perfect, may be a little warm, but for the most part, everyone’s mouth is shut.  But rain, a potential snow storm, you don’t need the weatherman, it’s almost completely unavoidable to overhear or be told without asking.  It’s become a peeve of mine, strictly for the fact that I wonder, “What good are you trying to bring into my life by telling me about rain?”  You aren’t warning me to make sure I have an umbrella, you’re bringing this up, without me asking, to tell me shit is going to suck, not now, but maybe tomorrow.  Okay, maybe it won’t rain, maybe it’ll only be a dusting of snow, shut the fuck up and wait and see, why do you have to bring me down for something that may or may not happen tomorrow… dick.

I was like every other skater growing up near the Atlantic, dealing with seasons, standard weather and whatever else Mother Nature had in store.  Florida has the heat, rain and humidity, you don’t hear too much about the South Carolina skate scene, Georgia, heat, rain and humidity, North Carolina, from what I know, rain, some snow, heat and humidity.  Virginia to lower parts of New York, the Mid-Atlantic, where I’m from, we have all four seasons, it’s actually pretty sweet when you think about it, we get just enough of all weather, just enough to get sick of it, then the seasons change.  It gets cold, but not cold enough to be told exposed skin is dangerous, the heat and humidity is death, it will never get too cold to skate, but it can damn sure get too hot.

DC was/is actually pretty harsh, rain-wise, in a numbers game, it’s on a competitive level with Seattle for rainfall at an annual level.  A lot of days were spent in the garage learning and perfecting flatground, searching for parking garages when we were old enough to drive.  Hell, from seventeen to about twenty, my car almost always had my box in the back, since we could or were definitely going to be searching for a dry parking garage.  We knew where all the best parking garages were, even had some spots that were four levels underground, a tall curb and barely a car or security guard who gave a shit in sight, at least after five and on weekends.  My friend Alex lived on a boarding school campus where his mother taught, they had an indoor track/field building with a large cemented corner, we skated there many rainy and snowy days.

I currently live in Philly, the weather here mostly spoils us, due to the physical location/wind currents/climate issues, I believe parts of Delaware and parts of Pennsylvania miss the majority of summer storms, precipitation in general is pretty low.  I’ve lived here ten years, came for college, stayed for so many reasons, weather being one of them.  Like I said, the rain is scattered and pretty decent, some of the time, for a skater.  It rains overnight, or for an hour in the afternoon, then no rain for a couple weeks.  November is generally the cloudiest and rainiest month, the worst part about that rain, when it’s forty to sixty degrees and then rains, with little to no wind, it’ll take over twenty-four hours for any spot to dry.

There is also a harsh ass wind, for about two to two and a half months, from somewhere in October through December, sometimes into January.  It’s seriously some of the worst wind, it’s made me think about leaving Philly.  The type of wind that never ends, five to ten minute gusts, drying out your eyes by endlessly watering them from the sharp cold hit, giving you a headache, wearing out your muscles and making your legs feel fifty pounds heavier while it grabs your board and takes you down hard when you try to simply ollie into a 50-50 on a ledge you can normally skate in your sleep.  The wind is that bad, you’ll slam, lose your temper or grow impatient trying to wait out the particular gust.

I’ve sworn at the wind, called Mother Nature dirty names, thrown my board, all because of this damn wind.  It really is that bad.  But!  The other nine to ten months out of the year are pretty perfect.  I can see how Philly became such a mecca for skateboarding and flourished so well on the east coast.  Two or three days of rain are such a rare occurrence, except for the warmer winters from climate change, I think the last two Christmas weeks were in the fifties with four and five days of rain.  There have been some nasty winters too, Solid amount of snow, warm the next day and then it all freezes before you could shovel out enough of the park and you’re stuck waiting it out.

Indoor parks don’t survive in the Mid-Atlantic.  At least not in any kind of bounty.  There are some private spots, things like the House of Vans, but again, that’s not in any kind of high numbers, at least not from Virginia and north.  I get it though, the city/county/state isn’t going to invest millions of dollars into a closed off building for skateboarders, and they aren’t going to supply a budget to pay for a team of people to supervise.

Hell, it was bad enough in Alexandria VA, they opened up a skate park that had a tall fence and locked gate, some guy would come by whenever he felt like it to open it and close it down, sometimes he never showed up at all for weeks(just left it open).  I can’t imagine the frustrations of having an indoor public facility supervisor.

And private indoor parks, nobody wants to pay membership, nobody wants to pay to skate, especially when they’re kids without jobs and already harass their parents for product, or an adult with a job, already paying for product and life, everybody looking for a free in, maybe too many of them getting it, they never last, or are extremely overcrowded, it’s where everyone goes when it rains, trying to get there early or show up late.  They always vanish within a year or two, save the private and daily used spots, which are always worth donating to.

But, it’s the same problem when I shovel out the skate park near me.  Skateboarding takes a lot of space, you don’t realize that until you need to shovel out a comfortable area to make it worthwhile.  I’ll spend two to three hours shoveling out a nice space for one person, then five people show up a day later, you mess up a warm up trick on the only ledge, you’re waiting another minute just to get in your five-O 180, and it’s cold and your legs are already tightening up, then you just get that single five-O 180, before you’ve thrown four tricks in five minutes.

But just like the wind, that’s really only for a couple months out of the year, and snowfall in the Mid-Atlantic is always just a potential threat, until it’s come to pass.  Worst case scenario, you can’t shovel after it first falls and have to wait three or four days for the sun to melt it, on a bad winter, you might get another storm while you’re waiting for the previous to melt, but that’s not often.

The Mid-Atlantic is pretty easy, you just have to be prepared for it, know the mentality, the clothing.  You’re going to sweat, five degree weather, if you’re properly dressed, you’re going sweat, I only use a layer of long Johns under my jeans, a thermal long sleeve, a t-shirt and a beanie, I leave my morning session with sweatsicles and frozen sweatlocks, sometimes the beanie is frozen to my hair, but I’m never cold, I’ve never suffered any cold weather issues, but once you start sweating, you can’t stop moving, and, once I started biking to and from the park, because the push was damaging to my feet from distance, I need to always bring a jacket or change of shirt for the cold air and wet clothing.  Aside from being prepared clothing-wise, it’s not too harsh.

Currently the beginning of the windy season has started, today was mellow, yesterday was fucked.  That’s the worst with the wind, it can be sunny and you think, well, who knows when the snow or rain is going to come, so how can you resist the dry day, then you want to snap your deck from trying to fist fight the wind.

It’s definitely being spoiled, rainy days seem so long, a morning storm you beg to end early enough to dry.  Every area has it’s weather and seasonal issues, even along the east coast, I can’t imagine being in Florida, where you can’t skate between ten and eight because of heat or thunderstorms, or at least not for long.  My sister went to college in Montreal where she befriended a skater from Montana, he said, “You just don’t skate for four or five months out of the year.” he was also a skater in the mid to late nineties, living in Montana, he said there was a roller skating rink that turned into a skate park a weekend or two out of the month during winter, but that was it, unless you had a decent sized garage that had the room.

Nowhere is perfect, Philly is pretty solid, if you can deal with cold and a few months of wind, but the weather can’t stop any of us from skating whenever we want, there’s always a parking garage, a basement mini ramp, hell you can always carpet skate, fuck around on your bed like a trampoline, trying to find the fun of a young Kalis(and so many of us), Kalis definitely owned the trampoline game though.

So, yeah, weather and seasons, nothing like being able to skate through it all.

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