Do you ever welcome a gray day in the summertime? Most people don’t seem to prefer this type of weather, especially during this season in Southern California. It’s almost like they feel cheated if every day is not dripping in sunlight. “This weather is nasty,” they are heard to proclaim. There is even a word for a malady that affects people lacking light. It’s known as seasonal affective disorder (or SAD, and what could be more fitting?). These folks become depressed and as gloomy as the weather that is the culprit for their woes.
My friend who is from Seattle couldn’t wait to escape the Northwest. As soon as she was able, she hopped into her car, stopping only to pick up her sister, who was also seeking a new life, and took off for greener (or at least sunnier) pastures. She tells me her home state is rife with alcoholics, suicides and hard driving rainstorms. She says that an umbrella isn’t very helpful, since the rain pours in sheets sideways from the sky…something I’ve tried to envision ever since she told me that. With my fertile imagination, the sideways storm is exaggerated like a tale by Dr. Suess, but the take away is that, no matter how you try to prepare, you cannot avoid getting soaked and chilled to the bone.
Another friend is from Alaska, certainly not a place synonomous with blue skies and sun-drenched days. In fact, I believe parts of Alaska are shrouded in darkness day and night for the better part of the year. My friend’s stepfather owned an old-fashioned saloon, a siren call for bored Alaskans from surrounding areas, desperate to drink away their boredom. I guess they could have done that at home, but apparently cabin fever forced them to seek refuge and some semblence of a social life outside the four walls of home.
I was born in England, and my mother used to say you could never plan outdoor activities (that is, if remaining dry was a priority), because it might rain at any given moment during any season. Perhaps that’s why I don’t recall family picnics as a child or outdoor events that didn’t involve rain boots.
Not much worry of any of the above here in sunny Southern California, where I have resided since the age of 11, and I’m not discounting the benefits of browsing outdoor farmer’s markets, hopping into the pool without morphing into an ice scuplture when you emerge, or lolling around on the beach. However, please indulge me here as I make a case for the occasional overcast day that occurs once in awhile, even in summer.
Yesterday was not such a day. I have an exercise bike and riding on it for the obligatory 20 or 30 minutes every morning is not my favorite thing to do. Like eating your veggies first as a child to get it out of the way, I try to exercise very early in the morning, and yesterday was no exception, yet it was uncomfortably hot by 8:a.m. Today I didn’t make it outside till after ten, and I expected to pay the price by shvitzing (Jewish for sweating) up a storm, so imagine my immense relief when I was greeted by gray skies and relatively cool weather.
At the risk of sounding almost sacriligious, I have to say I don’t particularly enjoy California summers, and I truly despise triple digit days. Maybe I am an East Coast girl at heart, since I have an appreciation for a little gloom. Though I’m Cali enough to not particularly want to be outdoors for an extended period of time during a torrential downpour. I do enjoy a rainy day here and there with its accompanying bolt of lightening and the startling roar of thunder.
There are days when sunny weather just doesn’t match my mood, when sunshine feels like an intrustion, when I’m closer to crying than laughing, and grayness feels like the color of tears. It may not last past the morning, but today is such a day, and you won’t hear any complaints for me. Nope, I’ll save the whining for when the temperature hits 100 and savor the gray of today.