May Gray, June Gloom

Oh it all looks so dark, doesn’t it?

Here in Southern California, where there is so much to complain about, our weather broadcasters like to moan and groan about a weather pattern they call May Gray and June Gloom. The areas near the coast suffer a thick cloud layer for most of the day, with the sun breaking through only late in the day, and sometimes not at all. Temps sometimes never make it past the mid-sixties, forcing us to take a  light hoodie or jacket with us, perhaps even wear long pants and closed shoes. Sometimes, it drizzles, and we have to use our windshield wipers. Tough, right?

Living in Southern California makes me feel entitled, you see. Entitled to good weather, among other things. Never mind that I was born here, and that I’ve lived here all my life, I still buy into the hype. I don’t believe in stereotypes, but I do believe in the idealized version of everything, kind of like Walt Disney did.

Entitlement is not a healthy frame of mind for writers and other artists. Engineered perfectionism is equally a blind alley. The weather is the weather, and except for wind-driven firestorms, is rarely a challenge to be comfortable in. The writer’s real weather challenge in SoCal is noticing it.

I’m working on a weather-heavy scene in an L5 habitat, a place that isn’t forced to have weather like we on Earth are. It’s fun trying to make it portentous. But writing it makes me realize how little I notice mild weather, and how I should probably do a better job of noticing it. Like our May Gray/June Gloom.

Greens are more intense in a bright overcast, but yellow flowers cut through the gloom the best. The air feels moist, a rarity. The temperature is in between; I don’t have to heat the house, and I don’t have to cool it. This time of year, our house is a cheap date, except for the mortgage and property taxes. If I sit still–inside or out–I can feel chilled without a jacket or long sleeves, but the minute I engage in light activity, I work up a sweat.

The sounds of an overcast day are muffled, the opposite of a Santa Ana wind condition, when everything is magnified, and I swear I can hear freeway noise from thirty miles away. (Not that I’m ever that far from a freeway, not here.)

On May Gray/June Gloom days, I want to drink coffee, eat chocolate, read, write, and watch TV. I want to think about things, not do them so much. I have trouble deciding what I should do. If I try to be focused, purposeful, I dither, and end up walking around in circles. Eventually, I give up and do nothing, except for those activities listed above.

Then, quite unexpectedly, the sun breaks through, and everything changes.

Get up! Now! It’s a beautiful day! Don’t just sit there! Do something!

Photos: I took them. The first is a street in my neighborhood; the second is from the gazebo area of UCI Arboretum.


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  1. #1 by My Perfect Weather on May 11, 2012 - 9:37 am

    Even California is rarely ever perfect. Kind of fun to have gray and sun in the same day.

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