Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rats, it's summer

Summer comes to Los Angeles...Flaming Hot Cheetos in a flannel-lined sandwich. Likely it will have turned us loose by the middle of the week, but in the meantime we sizzle and drip. And the forecasters are calling it dangerous, because of the temperatures and the humidity, so I am not the only one wailing.

Weeks of the euphemistic June Gloom that changed its reservations and stayed well into July left those of us not heat crazed and leathery to rejoice. Maybe summer won't arrive; that was the hope. I become dull witted in heat, I become lumbering and queasy. My people migrated from wintry lands, our blood goes thick and sluggish in temperatures above 82 degrees.

Overcast mornings and afternoon sun mitigated by moving air would define a bearable summer. I am a weakling, a lightweight in my failure to adapt to the county of my birth, home for most of my life. One summer lived in Washington, D.C. and a July vacation in North Carolina give me standards for discomfort that Los Angeles has never experienced.

In D.C. I was sure mold grew on us as we slept. I didn't even know anyone other than an uncle and aunt who had air conditioning. Our hair never dried. As I waited for the bus on the second leg of my journey after work, cloudbursts left us steaming by the time transportation arrived. We fogged the windows, then tried to breathe our way around the locker room atmosphere and squelchy bodies.

My sister and I share the summer aversion. She is in Virginia which differs from D.C. or Raleigh in no appreciable way. We eye the calendar and the trees for signs that fall is near. We do the dance of joy when, one morning, the air finally carries the snap that releases us.

Call this my seasonal lament. Call it observation. My life gives me no cause for complaint; how ungrateful and narrow that would be. I think of conditions under which I might be toiling and know this temporary discomfort would be bliss for millions, multiple millions.

Even as a child I sometimes felt ill from the heat. We sought respite in movie theaters, the library and a series of wading pools that were our vacation joy...again, not deprivation. Yet as years pass, it takes me longer to acclimate myself to change, the shift from mild to hot slows me and leaves me confused, unfocused. I am less agile and mobile than I was, resulting in fewer choices for escape.

I remind myself that if this is my greatest concern, my existence is one of ease and comfort. It is charmed. If only I hadn't become so spoiled by that vanished marine layer to which I write beseeching fan letters. Like one really homesick session at camp, all my credit at the store going for postcards and a pen as I begged for rescue, I have flimsy inclinations under even slightly adverse conditions. It is not a pretty thing, but at least I admit it.


Robert the Skeptic said...

Twain said: "The coldest winter I ever spent was a Summer in San Francisco" He was right; I grew up there as a child. Summer afternoon the fog creeps in and touches Oakland. The Peninsula gets chilly.

I kind-a miss it.

Lisa H said...

Having grown up in the D.C. area, I have to shout out:
I never got used to it. When other "natives" were out frolicking in the sauna called Outside, I stayed in with my toy trolls and a very large fan. We lived on the top floor of a 3 story brownstone. I really don't know how I made it to adulthood. Perhaps it explains my migration at the age of 25 (what TOOK me so long??) to the dryness of Colorado.
Too hot here too. Maybe we need to join Robert back in San Fran?

Radish King said...

After summers in Spokane as a child ugh and a summer in Key West and a summer in Alexandria VA and a summer in New York, I am most entirely thankful for Seattle's perpetual autumn and the rare hot days remind me that I am a winter girl a sweater and long underwear girl and there is a reason I swim in the lake before June and garden at dawn.

I love your writing, Marylinn. I can hardly bear to read memoir style prose but your writing is so lean and clean and your associations so entirely pure that they dredge up beauty from myself that I have forgot (wading pools for instance.)


Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - San Francisco vacations long ago, the fog. In a movie it would be one of the characters. Friends from Northern Calif. eye their forecasts and try to ignore what is going on here.

Lisa - Even the trolls' hair would have gone frizz in those summers. It is a slow process, but I think we are luring you west, this west, the edge, not Colorado. Then we can all look to the north.

Rebecca - Thank you...discovering your writing has breathed new life into mine. We, my siblings and I, loved afternoons with our succession of wading the oldest my job was draining them, then scrubbing away algae interlopers...anticipation of the cold, fresh water was worth the morning's elbow grease. Now, just put me where I need a sweater or flannel shirt. Fashion has long-since fled.

Kass said...

What a wonderfully well-written description of the effects of the seasons! "Flaming Hot Cheetos in a flannel-lined sandwich" indeed.

Penny said...

Dry heat is not so bad, but when humidity is added it's unbearable.

Even in the middle of a chilly winter, you post has me thinking how good it is that it's freezing here.

I think only a small minority of people really can tolerate high temperatures and high humidity.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - Hi, thank you. Today is cooler; there was even some early overcast.

Penny - My feeling about winter, as we experience it here, no huge extremes, is that one can warm up in many ways. Cooling off is trickier.

Erin in Morro Bay said...

Ah, and I lament our everlasting fog here on the coast! Once we get Lisa out here, we'll have to lure you up for an Art Girlz weekend by the sea, cool breezes, misty mornings and fog laden evenings.

Radish King said...



(so full of self pity I'm sloshing)

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - No lament for the fog...especially when on most days you can go a few miles inland to be greeted by the sun and clear skies. I adore your stretch of the coast and wish we had some be sure Lisa reaches her true home. Art Girlz forever.

Rebecca - Your sloshy self would be a most welcome Art Girlz sista...glue to our earlobes, paint and foolishness and a beautiful shore for you. Invitations forthcoming.