|Photography by Mary Allison Tierney|
What do you do when the weather never changes? When every day is sun-baked, blue skies stretch to infinity and a quilt of heat envelops you whenever you step outside your door? If you’re me, you start to go slightly mad, that’s what.
Or at least I did in my first summer in California. Having grown up in Ireland, where the weather is an endless source of speculation, it unsettled me to suddenly find that weather reports were irrelevant. Weeks would go by without anyone mentioning ‘the weather’.
Would the weather be nice for our picnic on Saturday? Of course it would. It would be the same as it always was: sunny, hot and dry with no chance of rain, temperature somewhere in the 80s, maybe even the 90s.
Every morning I would look out the window, wondering whether today could possibly be as hot and dry again as yesterday and if so, how on earth my neighbors managed to have flowers bobbing about their front yards. The answer came to me late at night when I would hear the whoosh of their sprinklers starting up like clockwork around 1am, as regular as the weather itself.
As regular as the weather. That’s a phrase you would never hear in Ireland. Weather there is as impossible to predict as your own fate. It can snow in April, it can rain thunderously in August, it can be mild and sunny in January, there can be storm force winds in June. Your best bet, however, is to assume that it will rain because Ireland, of course, is famously rainy.
On those perpetually sunny days, at the height of California’s summer, the lack of weather left me feeling cast adrift. There was something cruel about the endless sun beating down on my light-haired head, like an inquisitor shining a bright light in my face to break my spirit.
My only relief was to take trips on the weekend to coastal towns, where it’s cooler, where there is weather, to try to hide from the sun. On the hottest weekends, we would make our escape and hide away in the banks of Pacific fog, refugees from weather-free heaven. ‘Oh, look’ I would say to my husband excitedly ‘it’s only 75 in Half-Moon Bay, ’75 and foggy’. Maybe I’ll need to wear shoes!’
MJ Brodie is a recent arrival to California from Ireland (via Germany, Belgium and Scotland) and has slowly adjusted to endless sunshine and positive thinking. She has always written and blogged, having worked professionally in marketing and communications, and is taking postgraduate courses in writing with Berkeley Extension and Stanford. She is also a member of Write On, Mamas. A mother of one, she blogs on literature, politics and sometimes parenting at A Fresh Eye. You can follow her on Twitter @suilnua.