If our moods are affected by the weather then it explains why I’ve been so uninspired and restless the past two days. I lived in a subtropical, Southern Atlantic – coastal State for nearly 26 years. This place, if anything, was constantly changing… humid, wet, often cloudy or raining, you just got used to the fact that it could be sunny one minute, raining the next, then sunny again the following minute. I used to love that it could be raining in one place and a block away the sun is peeking through the clouds and not a drop as fallen. Upon moving to SoCal – after about 6 months of continual sunshine, I mean not one cloudy or rainy day, I felt like I was going to explode! I missed it. I missed rain. There was no break from the sun. It cooks everything here. There’s very little green. It’s dry and mostly cool where I live. Which is another contradiction; I heard of “Sunny Southern California” my entire life. Where I’m from you associate the sun with warm weather so I assumed that SoCal would be warm; it’s not. You need layers of clothing even in the summer. The evenings can get quite cool. There’s often a 30 degree temperature differential between day and night. That’s a lot! Once I got past my initial reclamation to the constant barrage of sunlight, I learned to relish it. All of these sunny days means I can ride my bike pretty much 365 days a year. In all honesty there’s perhaps a dozen days I can’t. I also learned the first time I visited the East Coast after about a year and a half in SoCal that the opposite reaction had formed regarding my initial pining for rain. Once I was in the middle of a nasty Summer torrential downpour, I was seriously missing the sun and the blue sky. For the past two days it’s been raining and I’ve not been able to ride my bike. I feel cooped up, edgy, restless, and honestly, a little depressed. Fresh cool air, sunlight, blue sky and the pavement to challenge my legs… I feel a little lost. Don’t get me wrong, SoCal is experiencing a horrible drought and I know we need the rain. But rain means very dangerous roads. See the roads here are not engineered for rain. Where I grew up, all of the roads are slanted slightly to allow the rain to run off into the shoulder where it can then be diverted into culverts. Here, because there’s so little rain on yearly basis, this added cost of engineering and construction isn’t justified and the roads are mostly flat. Which means water builds up on them. What is worse is the oils and grease from countless cars builds up and reacts with the water, making many of the roads very slippery and dangerous. As a cyclist, it’s really a dangerous task to ride roads here that don’t have bicycle lanes. There’s about 4 miles of my 15 miles daily ride where I’m riding the white line on the shoulder – with 6 inches to move and cars flying by me at 50-60mph. I have bright LED flashing lights and wear high-contrast yellow and black with white and yellow reflective strips… so it’s hard to miss me. But still, I am cautious. There are more car accidents and deaths on California’s roads during rain than any other time. I’d be practically suicidal to ride in this mess. It reminds me of the 4-5 months a year I couldn’t ride in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia , where I’ve lived. Snow, harsh rains, bitter winds, from late October to late March I might have a dozen days I can ride. I posted photos from my Thanksgiving Day this past week. I rode 55 miles on my bike that day before driving up to Santa Barbara to my good friend’s home for dinner with a dozen other artists, musicians, and writers. This is a photo from my last Thanksgiving on the East Coast, November – 2005 – on my parent’s property deep in the Highlands of North Carolina. I guess I have to do now what I did then… jump on the stationary bike and ride indoors.
In The Winter of My Discontent
I am very weather-sensitive when it comes to mood as well. I have lived somewhere with wonderful temperate weather all year round, and places that are stormy and extreme. Actually, I found that I missed the variety and wanted a good storm to clear the air, even though the other place was nicer all year round. I think part of the reason is that creativity often flourishes in conflict - and that includes the weather! Storms, weather changes and weather extremes do so much to shake you up out of your ruts and also bring so much inspiration and mood material for stories and art.
Most people in Southern California get really excited when it rains. But I think that anyone who moved to Southern California from a region that gets tons of weather feels a little ripped off when So.Cal gets a storm. It's not supposed to rain! False advertising! (And it doesn't help that the traffic gets SO MUCH WORSE.) I'm so relieved we're back to sunshine.
It's crazy how weather affects our mood. I caught myself moping about the rain yesterday here in Santa Barbara. I wasn't prepared for the downpour and I had no umbrella. I got soaked while walking to class and now I'm sick. Then, today, the clouds were slowly going away and I saw a glimpse of the sun and I thought, "No!! Rain, come back!" Haha, so interesting how we miss something when we don't have it anymore.
@danidee - I actually laugh at people's reaction to rain here. In Savannah, Georgia - where I lived for nearly 30 years - in the summer you can get big thunderstorms that roll in off the Atlantic Ocean - the water off the coast there is warm because it comes up from the tropics, mixed with cool high atmosphere air, the result is explosive. A summer thunderstorm can drop 2-3 inches in an hour on average and as much as 6 inches. The average yearly rainfall in LA is around 15 inches. Let's think about a city like Seattle, WA - which is supposedly known for it's rainfall. Seattle gets around 36 inches of rain per year. Savannah gets 50 inches. What is called "rain" here - is called a gentle spring shower or "sprinkles" in Savannah. LOL. I love that people here get umbrellas and rain coats and rain boots and all sorts of silliness. And I usually walk around with nothing - because truthfully, walking from your car in the parking lot of the grocery story inside - you can brush what water you get on you off. Yeah. I mean - I don't mind that it rains here from time-to-time. I just mind that everyone here seems to loose their minds. But then in Savannah - it might snow once every 10-12 years. Savannahians go nuts when it snows like Angelinos do when it rains. So it's all relative I guess. :D