Like the yin/yang symbol with its dot of black in the middle of the white swirl, and dot of white in the black one, on longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice with its endless heat and sunshine, there is a smidgeon of hope. On that very day, the inexorable orbit of our planet begins the journey to the chill dark days of winter. I find that spin comforting as the heat index here in Dallas has been hitting those 3 digit numbers which make me stay inside with the blinds shut and the air and fans going. It’s not even July yet. As my face glows with a sheen of humidity-induced damp and I deplete the ice in the freezer daily, I am comforted by the knowledge that snuggly sweaters, soft blankets, and cups of tea do exist in that faraway land of November and that indeed, Winter is Coming.
I prefer cool, grey, damp weather – my British roots are showing. However, hot and hotter is how I have lived most of my life. Kansas, California, and now Texas do have seasons, but they lean heavy on the hot. I loved living in the Blue Ridge mountains of NE Tennessee for the perfect progression of recognizable seasons. Just we tired of winter, gorgeous long spring would arrive, and then the bearable summer which was just 3 months long going into the crisp colorful falls. Kansas certainly has recognizable seasons, but whew howdy those summers are hot. And of course, the storms. Kansas wins for tremendous storms hands down. I like the beauty and wildness of a storm, but they can turn deadly there.
I also lived in Chicago which definitively does not tend to hot, but rather tilts the other way into freaking freezing. However, Chicago has June going for it. Nothing is as gorgeous as June in Chicago, probably because it comes after the brutal winters. Back in the mid-80’s I worked the breakfast shift at the Park Hyatt directly across from the old Water Tower. In the winter months, that meant I never actually saw daylight. I got up in the dark and went home in the dark. Getting up at 4:30 AM to catch the train, I would descend the stairs from my third story walk up and wade through knee-deep snow piles thoughtfully left by the ploughs to give me my early morning cardio. My train stop was the Belmont El. It’s an elevated stop, sitting roughly 2 stories above the street. This may have changed in the intervening years, but back then it boasted a 3-sided waiting area with the open part facing Lake Michigan. Gorgeous views but you were also full frontal to the weather and wind coming off the lake. Gusts howled into the small waiting area, hoping to blow you off the platform onto the third rail. The waiting area was fitfully warmed by sputtering heat lamps which were on a timer so you had to keep turning them back on. They were about as effective as those bitty light bulbs in Easy Bake Ovens were at baking. Even layered in arctic winter gear with nothing but my eyes showing, those were some of the coldest moments I’ve ever experienced. Wind chill is serious in Chicago. They shut Northwestern down for a few days one year when I was in college there. We all huddled in the dorms as the temperature plummeted to -27 which was bad enough, but the wind chill… the wind chill was -81. Eighty-one degrees BELOW zero. Normally we hardy Wildcats went to school in all weathers. Uphill. Both ways. On a mile-long campus on the lakeshore. So yeah, we welcomed June.
California was a dry heat, so it wasn’t bad most of the time. It could get up to 115 in the summers up where we were in Santa Clarita, and you could indeed fry eggs on the sidewalk. My boys and I experimented. The ants got incredibly excited that we cooked just for them. But being the desert, it would cool off at night. It doesn’t do that here in Dallas. Nighttime seems to hover in the high 80’s, super sticky too. They tell me its more humid that normal here right now, but I think the locals are glad-handing it and that its just hot and sticky here for eight months out of the year.
It occurs to me that life must be getting back on an even keel as I reminisce about weather. This past week was nice – dinner and music in the park with new friends, good swims at Masters, my Arbonne business humming along. It’s a good thing, this return to normal, but like the yin/yang symbol, there is a mass in the center of the gooey whiteness. A splotch of black incarnated as the feeling of waiting for another shoe to drop. Or perhaps a house about to fall on us, spun in by Kansas weather. I’m surprised by the realization that I distrust the sunny calm. This new normal of everything-is-actually-okay isn’t sitting comfortably. Could it be that I miss the upheaval and non-linear journey of the past 4 months? I don’t want another disaster, but there seems to be a restless piece of me that craves drama. Yet I don’t. Like those stormy Kansas days, I enjoy the spectacle of it, but not the devastation. Watching swirling clouds, thunder and lightning, and heavy rain from my comfortable chair in our nice apartment is fine – but no tornados touching down please, no trailer parks destroyed. I want to learn to be content with my yin, and let the yang have a rest.