Jul 30, 2013

"Coldest winter is a summer in Belgium"

Ever hear a famous saying that doesn’t make sense ...

Only to finally figure it out years (even decades) later?

Summers in Spa, Belgium
are "very warm" at most

For me, it’s the memorable line from Mark Twain: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” As an aficionado of American Literature in my teenage years was when I was first introduced to the saying, but had barely a clue what it meant.

Was he talking meteorologically, or metaphorically – or both?

Then in my twenties I visited my brother in Menlo Park, California.

We never made it to AT&T Park, thus I never saw Barry Bonds hit a home run – and for my money he’s the greatest baseball player who ever played – but we did pass through the city which I was shocked to find an unseasonable cool and damp, as if we were momentarily stranded in a cloud. I say momentarily because just like that we were in and out of it across the Golden Gate Bridge back in the warm California air.

Apparently there’s a fog that sits over the city all summer long.

Finally the saying made sense.

Spa stays cool all summer long
because of its higher altitude
and where its nestled in a deep valley

Fast forward twenty years later and as a Floridian visiting Belgium I find myself feeling much the same: “The coldest winters I ever spend as a Floridian are my summers in Belgium.”

Except last summer when Europe was in the grips of a major heat wave.

Belgian summers are winter like to a south Floridian

A common Belgian weather saying goes like this, or so I was told:

“The hardest choice you’ll face all day is deciding what to wear each morning, knowing in the back of your head you'll have to eventually change ...

Especially if you forget your umbrella!"

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