Before I die, I want to live somewhere with a shorter summer.
After a lifetime under the marine layer of fog, I cannot adjust to hot nights, and from mid-August to Mid-October the sun blasts our town. What meant a high of 75 degrees followed by a cool night of comfortable sleep in San Francisco now means the heat peaking in the high 80s around 2pm, followed by stifling nights of open unscreened windows and angry mosquito bites the next morning. I’m not much good in the heat, especially the parching heat of our late summers. For weeks I’ve been lethargic and unwilling to cook, and unsure of what to try cooking when the mood to do so struck. My grandfather would make sauerkraut and sausage accompanied by his decadent mashed potatoes in the middle of a Michigan August, but when my kitchen hits 88 degrees, I make sandwiches.
But last week the nip arrived in the early mornings and started loitering a smidge longer each day. We’re caught up on laundry and can dig our remaining French drains without fear of heat exhaustion. I moved a huge amount of toys and craft supplies downstairs to make space in the house for playing and making during rainy days (c’mon rain!). I’ve begun eyeballing the outerwear sales and guesstimating the right time to buy the right sizes of rain boots. The coolness, with its promise of civilized temperatures by dinnertime, brought me back to the little galley kitchen we made from some Ikea cabinets. I’ve roasted and baked and simmered, and my fridge is full of the results: chicken, bread, yogurt, stock, pie, muffins, applesauce, and a bread pudding. In my knitting basket I’ve cast on thick wooly yarn for Seamus’ stash-busting sweater.
The migratory songbirds have begun to arrive in the birch and oak that hang over our fence, and the shorebirds will soon be here. The pets snooze in every patch of sunlight they catch, and the chickens started their molt. On our recess walks and rides we notice the changes in gardens, as apple trees stop producing and persimmons and pomegranates start, and as roses open fully, then fuller still, before dropping their petals and swelling into hips.
The Summer lingers further inland, but here, Fall has finally begun.
I’m ready for it. I’ve had so much more energy since starting my medication, I feel like I could do all of the things I’ve planned over the last few years and have never finished (or started). I’m embarrassed by how much energy being depressed cost me, and more than a little grateful by how much better I feel. I’m sleeping and eating better, and when we miss a walk the soles of my feet tingle. I’m looking at our home and seeing the possibilities of creating comfortable spaces, even if they don’t last for more than a year or two before we knock out a wall or restore the fireplace. It’s stuff I’ve glimpsed for a while, but not felt capable of doing much about it, and more often than not I didn’t see the point.
But the hopelessness is gone. The heat is gone. Maybe it’s time to do some things.