Thursday, June 26, 2008

as high as I could get

The valley behind my new home

I don't like summer. This has always made me seem strange to people. How could you not like summer? But if I am not on vacation in a tropical paradise, summer unnerves me. And I grew up in Florida where summer lasts about 10 months, which definitely made for some depression. I left when I was seventeen.

I adored the climate in northern Italy when I moved there so many years ago. We were living high in the mountains. My children played in the snow and saw the leaves turn. The spring and summer were green and full of flowers. But somewhere around five or six years ago, things changed. The snow stopped falling and turned to gray rain. The flowers began to bloom too early, so that by the time summer rolled around, everything was brown and parched. Insects began to appear where before there were none. Mold began to grow on walls and people began to huff and puff and be irritable. The Italians where I lived finally had to learn about deodorant and fans and ice trays in their freezers.

Climate change in the area of Italy where I lived was fast and stark. My husband still talks about his snowy winters as a child, and I can still remember the white Christmases spent early in our marriage. Many of these places being encroached upon by African winds and heat are not built for a hot climate. The people literally do not know how to deal with it. Air conditioners have become popular in recent years. When I moved there I never saw even one.

When I moved here I was literally getting as high as I could get. This morning I woke up to frost on my petunias. There is a saying here that if you dare to put your flowers out before Father's Day, you will lose them to the weather. People here have huskies and Alaskan malamutes, and these dogs train by pulling sleds on rollers for the brief moment that is called summer. The season is fast and glorious, and will be over before you know it. The aspens have turned a brilliant green and the trout are running in the streams. The wild flowers literally explode all at once in a wild symphony, as if they are running to bloom while they can. The bears become quickly fat and the moose and elk wander around drunken with all the sweet grass. The birds sing so loudly and crazily that the overall atmosphere is that of a drunken party. As if not one creature is sleeping.

Every single person who lives here loves it. If you don't, you leave. The winter will kill you if you don't love it. The fall will depress you, even with its yellow aspen, if you're still pining for summer. The spring will tease you into anger, never quite arriving once and for all. And the summer will intoxicate you, never for a moment making you suffer. This is the first time in my forty years that I can truly say summer isn't so bad.


bleeding espresso said...

I'm *so* not a summer person either...and here I find myself in southern Italy. I know, I know....

Glad you're enjoying this summer though :)

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Oh, Jennifer, that valley is so, so beautiful.

Your story was heartbreaking, though.

Darla Bruno said...

Hi Jennifer, I agree with you about summer. I lived in northern Maine for a year on the coast and loved it. I'm sure I'd love it there, too; thanks for the photo!