Sunday, June 14, 2009

June Gloom

Not so gloomy for me. I welcome overcast diffusion rather than glaring heat and dust. I've never acclimated to my native L.A. My theory: you inherit ancestral blood; thousands of rainy Irish summers permeated my DNA, my circulation, my pale complexion.

If I had my preferences, I'd never have moved to my hometown. This contradictory remark betrays my wish for cooler climes. I find it easier to bundle up than take off, and I look better in bulk than bare. I wonder if Northern Europeans adapted to sartorial desires that made them lust and long after those mates similarly swaddled. Then I consider the stereotypical Scandinavian model, or recently post-glasnost her curvaceous Russian neighbors, and those images deflate my theoretical balloon.

The sun's out earlier today, so halfway through the month that often finds the marine layers persisting despite the solstice's nearness, it may be over for the ten days or so that's been "unseasonably" below the average temperature. When I'd driven to pick up Leo from his school tucked at the base of the mountain range twelve miles north, it's been drizzling or misty up there each time. I keep washing my car, confident I'll never see another cloud until November, and then it keeps showering-- always precisely enough to smear my car with dirt dislodged but never with enough water to sweep away the emissions-darkened urban grime.

Last summer, the same summer this picture was taken by "Kevin Collins 123," we visited Cambria; Layne and I walked above the coast in a sanctuary that a month or two before must have been bursting with lavender or wildflowers, early enough to beat the sun's daily conquest on its frontier where it battled the eternal sea.

Then, we drove up to San Francisco. Staying across the street from Buena Vista Park, the bay's view may have been not so "good," but I enjoyed the chance to wear my UCLA sweatshirt on morning walks while watching the fog lift slowly, hoping it would not end before my hour-long, rather strenuous trek three times around. It's a natural workout in this tilted corona under a miniature forest, given a circle that tipped up the hill and down, a route placed on the slope like an off-balance table holding a stain left by the ring of a coffee-cup; you trudged up and down the skewed elevation as you circled around the base of the hill the park surmounts. Many of those resident there, however, must have found this wearying in their perambulations up and down from the attractions of the Haight, marking the park's northern border.

I also remember, the day we left Mount Hermon on that same vacation, getting even on the morning of July 4th for the first time ever in California to wear my sweatshirt at least in the morning, on my final breakfast outside under the redwoods. It did get hotter soon, nearly ten degrees as soon as we left the arboreal cover on the tiny hill that calls itself a Mount, a couple hundred feet above the riparian plain, for the flat heat that, as we drove south, steadily rose with every mountain range we topped until the numbers neared a hundred, when they'd started in the low seventies on that protected peninsula off the Coast Range above Santa Cruz. We live so far inland that we never see a seagull, never sniff the salt breeze, never feel the drop in the air that signals when the ocean, even if still unseen, nears. That's why I cannot see growing old in palm-treed arid L.A., although Layne fears if our dream comes true that we'll shrivel and shiver as we wither amidst dripping pines.

Wikipedia reports that this term's indeed a local one; I'd never heard, however, its predecessor "May Grey." The entry concludes: "June Gloom has been reported by some Californians to bring on symptoms consistent with seasonal affective disorder. It is often cited as a time of depression." For me, however, reverting back to atavisitic patterns of comfort, I embrace the chance to wear a sweatshirt so close to my birthday, a time just after the year's longest day that always brings to mind sweltering ovens of baking furnaces, smog and sun and weary dog days if five weeks before Sirius the Dog Star's zenith at the arrival of the Perseid meteor showers.

Wikimedia photo caption: "Coastal clouds hovering over Southern California around 1:48PDT on June 12, 2008. Such clouds are involved in a weather pattern known as June gloom that occurs in late spring and early summer."


vilges suola said...

I sympathise. Despite 15 years in Southern Europe I am a child of grey, rainy Northern England and I loathe heat. The long, itchy, dusty, sweaty ennervating Greek summers were always a trial, and the torrential rain in winter an absolute joy to walk in, under a big golfing umbrella. In my ideal world rain would tip from a pewter sky 365 days a year.

harry said...

Your birthday. The grey skies. The hoodies slept in for 10 months of the year. The canopy protection from helios relentless. The economy starts its slow climb back. Time it right kiddos to get your retirement abode here, near.... morning walks in the brisk forest air, I promise.