Thursday, March 1, 2012

Slice One: Weather as Identity

So my good buddies Ruth & Stacey (Two Writing Teachers) encouraged me to take a crack at their Slice of Life blogging challenge: essentially, accountability for writing at least once every day for the month of March. Not wishing to be called yeller, I accepted the challenge. :)

Let's do this thing.


It's snowing today in Maine, and I was going to write about how the weather in influences the identity of New Englanders, myself included. But it snows often here, and I can write about that another day, perhaps. For the moment, a different sort of weather is on my mind.

Because three days ago, I was in Jamaica under a sun that seems to hang lower than it does here, with a close humidity that seems to be magnetically pulled in once any sort of exertion is begun. The land seems baked and soft, sweet with sugar cane and orange groves, and the breeze personifies palm trees, letting them wave their arms lazily against the deeply blue sky. There is a constant hum of insects, the river, sugar cane harvesters, footsteps on the dirt road.

And the people are marked by all of it: a slowness not born of sloth or inability, but of understanding that speed only exhausts. Workers follow the shade around a building, and rest comfortably when they need to. "Jamaican time" is understood and always in effect: a small flexibility to what elsewhere are hard-and-fast rules of punctuality. Conversation--alternating between accented English and patois--are casual and loose, rarely raised in volume, peppered with soft laughter. It's not a permanent paradise, it can't be, but it's easy to think so: to step onto Jamaican soil is to loosen the collar, smile easier, check email less frequently. "Yea, mon," falls from your tongue sooner, and more authentically, than you would expect--but leaves your vernacular shortly after the return trip home.

And today I am back at home, back at work, back to the usual. With fresh-fallen snow covering most of my window, it's increasingly difficult to remember--by which I mean, mentally experience and not simply recollect--the feel of Jamaican sun and soil. It's not to say that I prefer the exotic--I loved my visit, but here I'm home--only that we are shaped by where we live. A land closely surrounded by turquoise seas and consistently well-heated by a golden sun will raise a different people than the ragged New England winters which yield to bright, temperate summers and definitive autumns. We are where we are. What happens to the place happens to us.


  1. On a less profound (but related) note, your post makes me think of Relient K's song, "High of 75":

    "We were talking together
    I said, "what's up with this weather?"
    Don't know whether or not
    How sad I just got
    Was of my own volition.
    Or if I'm just missing the sun

    And tomorrow, I know,
    Will be rainy at best.
    And the forecast, I know,
    Is that I'll be depressed.

    But I'll wait outside
    Hoping that I'll catch sight of the sun.

    Because on and off,
    The clouds have fought
    Their control over the sky

    And lately the weather
    Has been so Bi-polar
    And Consequently so have I

    And now I'm sunny with a High
    of 75
    Since You took my heavy heart
    And made it light

    And its funny how you find
    You enjoy your life
    When you're happy to be alive"

    1. I just realized that I had forgotten that I own that album!! Good stuff. Much like the post.

  2. This line: "we are shaped by where we live," there's something I need to explore more there. Hoping to hear more about Jamaica. Welcome home...I'm glad you're slicing.

  3. What a lovely post. I felt like I was there and if I closed my eyes I could almost feel the balmy heat and smell the wonderful island smells!

  4. Thanks for the feedback, ladies!
    Re: Ruth--I was caught up by that, too. Must let it simmer a little more, but there's definitely more to play with there...

  5. How cruel to go from the warmth of Jamaica to the windy winter storm of yesterday. Glad you and Rebecca got home safely!