It is often said that Montreal has just two seasons: June, July, August and winter. I can’t deny that there may well be some truth to this. However unlike NBC’s Bryant Gumbel who, while here for an Expos game – Blue Monday, don’t get me going – in October of 1981, seemed to believe elbow length mittens and a parka would be appropriate autumn attire. They weren’t and he just looked dumb.
While our springs and autumns seem to have morphed into mere weeks-long events rather than full seasons, there are still two other seasons that bear mention. I like to call them Early Open Car Window (EOCW) season and Late Open Car Window (LOCW) season.
Let me just point out that when it comes to car windows I know of what I speak. You see in about 1981 or so I bought a 1975 two-tone AMC Pacer. A car that was about 80% glass, and what wasn’t glass was door. Even with the great leg room, it didn’t go over very well with the car buying public and was soon discontinued. Now people collect them.
EOCW is those few days or, if we are lucky, weeks when there is no need for the your car’s heater to be on after chugging away all winter, but it’s too cool yet for air conditioning. Likewise LOCW is the period after Labour Day when it’s nippy enough that car air conditioning isn’t required but not too cool to open the window.
There was a time when air conditioning was a very pricey luxury found only in upper crust vehicles, maybe from Cadillacs up. While those with fancy air-conditioned cars sat comfortably in city traffic, with windows closed, during even the most brutal of heat waves, the rest of us had to rely on what we called 4-60 air conditioning. This involved opening all four windows and driving sixty miles an hour in an effort to create a breeze and cool folks in the car. Looking back the additional drag caused by the open windows probably cost as much in extra fuel consumption as the price of air conditioning! But now it is an option available on just about every car.
During these transitional seasons in Montreal, it is not unusual to get into your car in the morning to drive to work and find you need a bit of heat, only to drive home later with the A/C blasting aReadyway as the day warms up. In either case the windows are best left closed. But then there are those days, or at least parts of days, when neither A/C not heat is required and the windows can be opened affording the driver the opportunity to partake of the traditional elbow-out-the-window posture of yesteryear. Although if you do assume this position for any longer than it takes to order two double-doubles at a Tim Horton’s Drive Thru, make sure to use sun block.