The morning is a schizophrenic mix of dull gray clouds and filtered sun, making me uncertain as to how I should dress for the outdoor chores I want to do. Should I cover up, protecting myself from the unseasonably cool breeze, or toss my caution to the wind and pull on cropped pants and a shirt that leaves my arms exposed? The latter requires rubbing in sunscreen. I’m reluctant. The lotion is cold; my house is cold, not yet warmed up after yet another night in the low 40s. In June. But once outside, won’t I enjoy the sun’s feeble warmth? I’ll forget about goose-bumpy arms as I move around, raking and sweeping and trimming, dead-heading and neatening up.

Won’t I?

It seems I’m never satisfied. During several recent winters I complained because winter never really arrived. There were months of days in the 60s after only brief forays into the sort of frigid temperatures that winter is supposed to bring. Spring merely continued the trend, and when summer came, it came early and with such heat and blinding sun that I swore every time I had to go out into it. Fire on the brain. Immolated skin. This, I thought darkly, is global warming. You don’t believe in it? Then live where I do, through long, moisture-less winters and flaming summers so hot and dry they crackle and crumble into dust.

Then Last Summer arrived – and settled in – with a low cloud cover and the kind of humidity I’d only before experienced in the American South and in Northern Germany, close to the sea. But here there was no rain. That wasn’t a surprise; it never rains (in any measurable way) in any part of California from April until November. But the persistent gray skies, coolish temperatures and high humidity were odd. My vegetable garden tried its best, but just couldn’t take off. The sullen summer turned into a clear and sunny fall, and then, suddenly, into a Winter that finally deserved that capital W.

Snow, a melting rain, more snow, more rain. Cold winds and iced-over mornings. Snow again, as high as my knees. It was the winter I’d been dreaming of, the possible end to a three-year drought and weather boring enough to cause madness.

Then it stayed. And stayed. And stayed, only breaking briefly now and then as it rolled right over Spring and permitted only enough sun through to convince the trees to leaf out, the flowers to open and the birds to mate and sing and nest. Capital W Winter teased me. “Prepare your garden! Dream of sun-warmed tomatoes and aubergines! Dare to consider shorts and flip-flops, and iced tea out on the patio!”

So I dreamed.

As the Northern California mountain June begins, gray, rainy May hangs on doggedly, the see-sawing barometric pressure making my hands and knees swell and ache and pulse. My mood is turning cold and gray to match what I see out my windows.

The cropped pants and short-sleeved shirt win out. I’ll bring my fleece jacket out with me, handy for cold moments, just in case. And when the chilly rain comes again this afternoon, I’ll hide indoors with a fire kindled in the woodstove, wondering what sort of meal to cook for supper. A hearty soup to warm the bones, complete with crusty bread for sopping up savory broth, or a crisp, cheerful and cooling green salad loaded with colorful vegetables imported from far away?

Maybe both. My hands will tell me.

8 thoughts on “Indecision

  1. Ah Wren, people are never happy. That is why we are the dominant species on Earth. 🙂 Our weather has been pretty nice in the Midwest. Perfect temps. July and the beginning of August are usually the hot and humid months but otherwise, our summers are pretty good around here. I love summer but not because of the warm weather (and those awful storms) but because of the transition that my kids take during those months. I don’t seem to notice as much in the winter but in the summer months I see it more. For example, my ten year old will be finishing up fourth grade in a few days and in September, he will be a fifth grader and to me, that is remarkable how fast he is growing up. And it seems so much more dominant when the transition actually takes place than it does when he is still working towards it. Hopefully, your garden fares well this summer.


  2. Well, here in New Jersey it has been at or above 90 degrees for the last few days. Quite a shock for this time of year when it should be in the mid 70s’. I’ll take it over the past winter storms and shoveling any day but it is hard to jump from a high of 60 degrees to 90 degrees in just a day or two. Oh and Wren, you have certainly done much better with exercising than I have with smoking. Keep up the good work. Glad you are seeing results.


  3. I sure hope you enjoyed your time outdoors. The weather has been crazy here, too. Rain rain and more rain. And we’re having a party this weekend, so someone needs to mow the lawn and pull weeds in this miserable weather.

    Maybe you’ll have a nice, warm, sunny day tomorrow and get to take a long walk on that beautiful path near your home.


  4. I have to admit I’m jealous. It’s been sunny, hot (in the 90’s) and humid in Dallas for the last week. This weekend we’re treading into triple digit temps with an eye to breaking heat records. Like you, we had a winter to beat all recent winters, but old man Summer has definitely claimed his territory in the great state of Texas. The weather gurus say this doesn’t necessarily predict an equally hot summer, but what do they know?


  5. It seems the weather can’t make up its mind anywhere. We’ve just come through (I hope) a patch of extraordinarily hot and humid weather, and now we seem to be in a week of storms. I’m awaiting the return of normal June weather – pleasantly warm, but not stifling, and a nice, cooling breeze.

    In the meantime, I’m ensuring I bring layers with me to work – and my umbrella!


  6. The past two days were humid here (I keep telling myself it is good for the skin and smile to make myself believe it). Last night, a vicious thunderstorm rolled through the valley, snapping young trees and throwing nests out into the street. My Mama suffers from Rheuma, and your blog is most welcome … it will help me be a more understanding daughter. Thank you, Wren!


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