What I share won't come from after dark but rather the quiet before the light, warm morning kisses, and the cold grip of the day.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Birth of the Cool

Here it comes.  No, it’s here.  The morning darknesses.  The tardy risings of the sun, the sweaters, the stews, the moods, the torpid rhythms of the latter two seasons suit some of us more than others.  I feel better in long pants than short; more at home in a felt fedora, less so in a baseball cap.  (Oddly, this is the season when baseball heats up.)  In a Würzburg hotel, in a far and new November, a white room, with gray skies beyond the windows, a feather bed and a comforter of down, thick as a batt of insulation, made supine - divine.  I have never traveled to the Southern Hemisphere, but it sticks as odd that folks in Sydney are about to bask in more direct rays of the sun, while we will take hard ‘nox.  I’ve spent a white-hot Christmas in Southern California, as well in Florida, made winter trips to the Caribbean, but to live an ordinary life where you’re sweaty in December?  Topsy-turvy.

Is anything, even politics in an election year, as universally talked about as weather?  How the world would grind if a moratorium was enforced and no one anywhere during any conversation was allowed to mention weather?  Try it.  An “I-will-not-talk-about-the-weather-today-day.”  A Mesopotamians, many Mayans, and a lot of Longshans, would have earnestly chatted to decide what should be a priority concerning their crops and preparations to deal with seasons.  I’m sure they would have had a sensual awareness of, say, when weather felt pleasant, but did each conversation around the water hole start off, “Il fait beau, ma chère amie!”  Indubitably, the first course served up in every diner, café, trattoria, rathskeller, noodle house, or pub is cold snaps and heat waves.  It’s became part of our humanist litany to talk about crappy weather.  “Hot enough for ya?”  Well, it is summer.  “Cold enough for ya?”  For chrissake.  “Ain’t No Sunshine” to “Singin in the Rain”, are among some two hundred songs about weather, at least, metaphorically.

People move because of the weather.  We did.  Portland, OR to Santa Fe, NM.  It wasn’t the only factor, but it was big.  (I maintain, if weather in Portland was like it is from July through mid-September - when it’s Shangri La -  for 10 months of the year rather than 10 weeks, they would have a population of 6 million not 600,000.)  It isn’t that the rain is all that frequent, but the grayness is.  People talk about “sun breaks”, like smoke breaks.  Portlanders will stop whatever they’re doing and walk outside when the sun occasionally cracks through.  But, they're tough…you don’t see as many umbrellas as you might think, or see them run to get out of the rain.  (I read once, that you will get wetter if you run in rain, because you speed through more of the drops.)  It stays light late in the Northwest near the summer solstice, but early in the winter from 4PM to 8AM you need lights.  Now, I’m doing it.  Honestly, the weather there, anywhere, has never bothered me, never been a major entity in my life.  I kvetch about a lot of other things, believe-you-me, just not the weather.  Weather is to seasons as commercials are to television.  We talk about them a lot, they interrupt, are annoying or fun, and frequently, in your face.  There are some places that don’t have seasons.  It’s peculiar, like people without eyelashes.

The weather can’t be stopped any more than the talk about it.  It’s easy palaver.  Is it too idle?  Do we use the subject to audibly fill the interstices of quiet, when we might be better off listening?  What about taking in the sounds of weather - the wind, the rain - or the hum of civil society, privately absorbing what stirs around us, as if it nourishes.  Then, if we are bursting to make a pronouncement, could it come, enriched, from such digestion?

“Hot enough for ya?”

“My Mother loved the heat, the way the sun made the sheets smell hanging on the line.”

Anon, James

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