New world

This is probably going to come out sounding ridiculously maudlin or the like, but is there something about the place where you grow up that imprints a particular climate and weather patterns into your bones? I grew up outside of Boston, and New England/northeastern weather still just makes sense to me. I see pictures of winter and I know that winter. I watch TV shows set in NYC in November, and I know those Novembers – I know the feeling of cold air rushing in your nose, the raw cold on your cheeks while your torso is warm, even hot, under your layers of clothing, the look of your breath turning into frost as it hits the air. I know the gray of low-hanging clouds. I know the sloshy dirty puddles of slush pooling in every low part of the path. (I know the peculiarly crisp crunch of snow compressed under your feet when it’s far too cold to melt, too, but mostly I know that from Minnesota, not the northeast.) I know the look of the empty trees, and the riot of pale green when spring comes around again. I know the mosquitos, too, that harass you in summer, as well as the deerflies that used to land on our dogs’ noses. I know summer as hot and humid, broken up by cool gray days when you have to wear long sleeves.

Which is to say that I’m not really sure why I’ve moved to a place where I’m not likely ever to experience those things again. The first day of autumn is Saturday, and my friends in northern climes are talking about breaking out the boots and the sweaters; the high here today was 101 degrees.

I mean, I will adjust; I think the desert is beautiful, and it’s not like you can get both the desert and the deep dark woods together in one place – you have to give up one of those things. There’s a lot to be said for being able to walk out the door most of the year without having to drag on coats and scarves and hats and boots, and for plentiful sunshine, and spectacular sunsets, and eye-searingly bright flowers. I like the mesquite trees that surround our apartment, as well as the butterflies and hummingbirds that live in them. And I hope this doesn’t make me sound too much like an AARP member, but as I get older, I’m less and less interested in dealing with the cold. I miss it in a theoretical way, as a central part of the part of the weather that I grew up considering “normal,” but a little dose goes a long way – I’m happy enough not to spend November through April snowbound (or at least mudbound).

But anyway, here we are. It still feels pretty foreign, but not in a bad way; it’s just not our place yet.

*Well, I won’t miss the mosquitoes, but my luck with the desert has run out: my last two cities were blessedly free of insects, but here I’ve seen a furry brown spider the size of my hand, climbing the wall next to my head, and been told by NLLDH that he’s twice seen what he thinks is a black widow outside our door. I think the brown spider was a giant crab spider and they’re harmless – it was actually gorgeous in its way – but I’ve never been that close to such a large arachnid in real life and the lizard brain took over and I jumped up and down and flailed like a baby.


8 thoughts on “New world

  1. Real winter gets old fast for me. I look forward to winter where it may hit freezing once or twice, and then likely at night. I’ve adjusted well enough to snow, but I can easily imagine not missing it. And especially, not missing digging out for 4 months.

  2. I grew up largely in San Diego, CA, and I can say that it is true that San Diego weather imprinted itself on my brain. My year spent in England – polar opposite of San Diego, precipitation wise and in many other ways – was excruciatingly hard because of the weather. Depression like I couldn’t believe. I need copious amounts of sun and balmy day to be happy. Really a terrible idea, raising children in San Diego, unless you’re going to live there forever. Which I didn’t.

  3. I do think that the way we experience climate as children (when we are so aware of our senses) does connect us to those landscapes and leave us nostalgic for them if we leave.

  4. I grew up in the South and although I do love New England, and I don’t miss the scorching summers, I think there is some truth in what you’re saying. I think NC where my earliest years were spent affected me most–four seasons but spring came early and fall lasted just about till Christmas. That said, I would really hate a winter with no snow now.

    And ugh, spiders. In Florida (one of my least favorites states, at least of the ones I’ve lived in) we had hand sized spiders (harmless but UGH) in the house all the time…and snakes outside. DO NOT MISS THAT.

  5. WHy do you think the Northeast / NY / Rust Belt states are emptying out? Everyone is moving south. Humidity is no fun but I’d rather drive in humidity than in ice and slush.

  6. I’m sorry I haven’t checked over here in a while – I guess I was out of commission when you switched over to your new address. Are you in my city? I can’t tell from the descriptions.

  7. Here’s something to appreciate about where you live now: fewer socks. Although I’m really happy to be back where there are four seasons that I’m used to, and to be in the *upper* midwest where the summers are milder than where I grew up (sorry oldschoolprof, this Rust Beltian will never move further south, unless it is also south*west*, where it’s dry), I HATE having to wear socks so much of the year now. Even more, I HATE laundering them and then trying to match them up. Ugh.

    Which reminds me — it’s fall and I haven’t washed last year’s more formal fall and winter socks. That’s right, I hate it SO much, I put it off for whole seasons at a time.

    Seriously, I really freakin’ hate socks.

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