Weather and the Soul

This week most of our country is under ice. Over the weekend my in-laws got nearly two feet of snow. Now they’re living through an ice storm. My friends in Dallas have been trapped in their homes because of ice, while Austin friends are losing power. My family is suffering through a high of 8 degrees while the Amarillo wind seeks its revenge on all things still standing. (There’s nothing colder than Amarillo wind…this coming from a girl who lodged in Syracuse, New York for three years.)

And in the midst of that, August and I went on a pleasant springtime walk to the park this afternoon: he in a zip-up sweatshirt and I in a jacket and decorative scarf. The sun shined and it was 60 degrees.

You may think I’m bragging but that’s not my intention. Yesterday Chris made some joke about the weather and I sighed and said, “Well, it is February…” in my most dramatic of voices.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the sunshine and I love not freezing. But there is something really strange about living in a land so disconnected from the rest of our world. I talked about this in July, when it was 50 degrees and cloudy everyday and August wore mittens to the zoo. My soul is seriously not okay with skipping seasons. It feels like I’ve been living in some continuous loop of weather and though my body can appreciate the surface-level contentment of a pleasant February, my spirit needs restorative order. I need to feel hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I need to sigh and spend an afternoon in the sun on the first warm day of spring. I need to settle into the crispness of fall. In San Francisco, the calendar means so little to me. I feel like I’m losing sense of reality.

I’ve been trying to get my ahead around this feeling. Surely I’m just one of those women who can never be satisfied. And all you frustrated icicle-handed east coasters are rolling your eyes and cursing my complaints. But, there’s something to the calendar and what it’s supposed to represent. It affects everything. It’s why we eat soup and stew in the winter and grill hamburgers in the summer. It’s why we celebrate Christmas with twinkle lights (it’s dark so early!) and sing about things roasting on open fires. It’s why Easter is full of flowery colors. Spring brings hope again!

Today there were flowers in bloom on some bushes we passed. A couple of nights ago my husband said: “Living in San Francisco’s weather is like being in a passionless marriage. It’s pleasant enough but it’s severely lacking…” I’m thinking he meant that in order to experience intense joy, we need a little suffering.

That statement is so true to me. I need winter because it reminds me of why I need summer. Seasons in the year remind me of seasons in my life. As much as summer is my favorite time of year, I’m always excited for the promise of cooler weather, for the possibility of sweaters and hot chocolate and football games. I’ve felt that way for seasons of my life as well. For every beautiful experience that has come to an end and left me anxious and sorrowful, there’s always been the promise of the next season, the refreshment of that “change in weather” that will affect everything. Sometimes I pray that when I’m elderly I will feel that way about death.

I’m having a baby soon. I seriously cannot believe that another child is going to exist who calls me “Mama.” Some days I’m clinging to the life we’ve lived with August for the past two and half years, longing for some promise that this shift won’t break the beautiful thing our family has shared. And at the same time, in my soul it’s been spring and I can’t wait for afternoons by the pool and ice cream cones and late night games in the yard.

I like seasons. What can I say? I’m sorry you all are cold. So let this remind you of the passion of that first glorious day of sunshine, ok? Because passion is always more life-giving than pleasant-ness.

  • CAQ

    I live right off of Lake Michigan (well, 2 blocks, but it’s open space between me and the lake) and the wind has been so bad for the last two days it’s been setting off car alarms in the parking lot below my window as well as up and down the street. All night, all day. This has helped me grade in a very awake mode. I don’t mind winter, probably because I grew up in Chicago (well actually I am against ice because I am clumsy). I actually miss Syracuse.
    But tomorrow I am making snow angels with the 4 year-old I home school, and then we’re writing a story about snow angels. It has to involve hippos because we’re studying the letter h. We can’t do that in the summer. So that’s kind of an upside of winter. xocaq

    • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

      I wish you were August’s homeschool teacher, CAQ. Are you following any specific curriculum or are you just using your genius mind? I personally love the idea of hippo-shaped snow angels. I think I could make one right now if I tried. I’ve never experienced Chicago wind off of Lake Michigan but if you’re longing for Syracuse then I feel very sad for you. You will earn your spring, friend!

  • http://tracykarroll.wordpress.com Tracy K

    Thank you for writing this. Weather has always been a huge factor in the things I do–what movies I want to watch, what foods I eat, what clothes/makeup I wear, how I style my hair, what activities I want to spend time on, where I want to go. I was just thinking yesterday, “Is there a name for weather affecting my brain so much?” It’s as if weather is a filter my life flows through. At times it’s fun, unexpected, and thrilling; other times it’s frustrating and boring. This is why I also adore seasons, and especially season changes! Such excitement comes with a season change, especially that first day of new weather. Everything feels fresh.

    Living in Dallas has really frustrated me over the last few years because we hardly get any winter (which I was used to in Amarillo) and, instead, it seems we get 9 months of blazing hot summer. I’m tired of staying in most of the day from June-October to avoid the heat. I’m tired of getting headaches from walking between air conditioning and outdoor conditions if I DO venture out. I’m tired of conditioning my body to handle the heat if I want to work out in the evenings. I long for a return to real, actual seasons and hope within the next few years I will live somewhere that has them.

  • Rebecca

    Imagine how messed up you would feel if you came and lived in the Southern Hemisphere. Christmas in the summer and Easter in the Autumn.

  • Caroline

    I was just thinking of this very thing today! As winter barrels on, I thought towards what those first few weeks of spring feel like. And suddenly, winter didn’t feel so bad. Suddenly, digging my car out of a snowbank seemed a small sacrifice compared to touching the first buds on a tree speckled with dew.

    You may be out of whack with seasons, but you are only two hours from Big Sur. For that, San Francisco must be worth every seasonal disorientation. :)

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