Wednesday, July 7, 2010
The Shock of Summer
Summer arrived with a vengeance yesterday. Relatively speaking, it wasn't that hot, a mere 85 degrees, but in a year when June has been renamed Junuary, and when the high temperature the day before was almost twenty degrees lower, it felt really hot. Today is even hotter, with a scorching east wind offering a tease of relief but feeling like the air stirred by the fan in a Bikram yoga class.
After our cooler-than-average, wetter-than-average, and unsettlingly weird spring, the sudden shift into full summer only adds to my sense of unease. I understand why I've been affected by the lack of sunshine. That's a no brainer. I talk myself through the dense grays of January and February with the promise of the brilliant summer blues to come. Like a hibernating bear who barely survives the winter months on stored sustenance, I come into spring ravenous for light and warmth.
That the only blue this year has been how I've felt, or the color of the water pouring from the felted sky, seems like a broken contract somehow. And that seems odd - to be taking strange weather to heart this way.
Now that the real, promised brilliance of summer has arrived, I'm grateful, and cannot get enough of it. But the shock of sudden heat, along with recent weeks of being promised one kind of weather and waking up to an entirely different kind, makes me wary.
When I was a child, growing up on the farm, barbed wire fences patch-worked our eighty acres. Some were electric to keep our herd of Holsteins from pushing them over to get to the greener grass in the next field. In our summer wanderings my brothers and I were careful to avoid those hot wires, each of us having experienced the bite from trying to slip - unsuccessfully - through strands without touching. Different fences would be electric at different times, and we always knew which ones to look out for.
Or so we thought. Every once in a while, I'd forget or not listen or not pay attention. There's nothing quite like the shock of grabbing a strand of barbed wire to lift it out of the way to crawl through the fence, expecting nothing but the feel of cool metal and being met with the fiery surprise of enough electricity to change the mind of a thick-skulled cow.
The physical pain ended the minute I released the wire. The feelings of stunned disbelief and betrayal lasted much longer. That fence was supposed to be off. I had been sure of it. How could that happen? And for a long while after, I didn't trust any fence, no matter what. I often convinced one of my younger brothers to test the wires until enough time passed for the memory of the shock to fade.
That's how I feel about the weather this year. Like a trust has been violated. The fact that no person has any true meteorological power, or that whatever larger purpose might lie behind the changes is not about me, or that there have been even weirder weather years recorded - none of that lessens this sense of unease.
I understand that the only moment we can trust is now. I know a loving and benevolent Divinity. I've worked hard to be accepting of the fact that control is an illusion, security is a myth, and change is the only certainty. Apparently the weather this year is offering me the chance to learn those truths at a much deeper level than I had access to before.
I think for now I'll go sit in the shade of my patio, soak up the heat, and be grateful for this glorious day.
Photo from Flickr