June Gloom

The gateway to summer is a cool month that surprises me every year. In June, high temperatures here can be as low as 65 degrees. They talk about “June gloom,” but gloom is relative. In San Diego that might only mean we have overcast skies as often as not.

I remember living in the Midwest and talking to a person from Arizona about the weather. She told me she was getting used to Minnesota but, she said, “You remember that time, last year, when we didn’t see the sun for two months?”

I didn’t know what she was talking about. It just seemed like regular weather to me.

Summer in Southern California ultimately means an unbroken dome of blue sky and bright sunlight. Marine clouds along the coast are common, but if you get a couple miles inland even those disappear. The temperatures are moderate and in any other place this weather would be a Godsend. But here it becomes monotonous.

Here, from May to November, it just doesn’t rain. In summer I dream of rain. I think of the way it makes the streets gleam at night. I imagine the sound it makes on tin roofs. Overcast and rain make you reflective. Sunlight is emotionally shallow.

I have been in California long enough to know the world has changed since the last time I lived anywhere else.

Sometimes I look at San Diego and tell myself the place, where I used to live, wasn’t like this. Life was different and the people were different. That’s probably true. They were different.

But now, how do I know that it isn’t exactly the same there as it is here? These days they probably send text messages in Minnesota too. Maybe my past and the places I knew simply no longer exist.

Lately I was talking to a gifted journalist who was fired from San Diego’s daily newspaper, the Union Tribune. He was looking at opportunities in Minneapolis and I told him to consider the weather, but he pointed out the fact of global warming.

Minnesota has had a spate of very mild winters. The winters I remember were tough and frigid, with temperatures plunging below zero for days on end. The snow would crunch beneath your feet and the wind would cut right through you. Now, even the reliably brutal Minnesota winters are no longer reliable.

Places change and I have also changed. You see the world from inside your skin, and my skin is older. Now, all I really know is that it is June and the air is (again) surprisingly cool, and I hope that this year will be like the year before.

I’m pretty sure the summer will grow brighter and warmer as it gets longer, and I can’t hope for rain until it’s nearly Christmas. In the Midwest, the summer will be hot and humid and the lightening will crack as thunderstorms roll across the countryside.

I hope the place I used to live is still a different place. But not having been there in a while, how would I know?

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