When I lived in India, summer was the dominant season. It was almost always summer, except when it rained. The rains you could not fail to notice, because it was so abundant, often so violent. Accompanied by strong winds, they blew roofs, brought down energy poles and left streets flooded. Winter? There was no such thing in eastern India, where I lived. For about a month you donned a jacket you had, a flimsy blazer most likely, only because you left for work early or returned late from a party, and felt a gust of cool air on your face. For the rest it was all summer.
It was about the same in the Philippines, where I spent several years. In that country there are only two seasons, summer and more summer. Being an archipelago, when it rained it seem all hell was coming down, but it never seemed make the slightest difference to the temperature. The heat and humidity remained constant. In December, the Filipinos mentioned that winter had arrived, but I did see any difference. If I went for a walk at early dawn, I sweated before I had taken ten steps.
Clearly, there is much to be said for the congenial air of spring and early fall, but I thought in those days that winter was overly maligned. Granted it is no fun to get up at six in the morning, gulp a mug of coffee and step out for work when it is still dark, much of the time I was quite comfortable in my office, in the car and back in my den. Then came the shameless but delightful overeating of Thanksgiving and the ethereal conviviality of Christmas, and I could not put my heart in running down winter as a miserable interval when life is dark and pleasures are verboten. I had my soft corner for winter, despite the cold beds and icy roads.
Washington – which many early residents referred to as a “swamp” and Donald Trump seems to have revived the title – can be warm and humid. No doubt it is not the best place to be in July. I would rather be in Bogota, Bilbao or Brindisi, or the abundant beaches of Bimini. Yet, in a compromise with an imperfect world, I am quite content these days to pass my days in a warm and moist Washington.
The first thought that occurs to me is that I would rather have it than the rigors of winter. Maurice Chevalier said reportedly that old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative. In a similar spirit I contend, contentedly, with sweat rather than sweaters. I am happy to go around in tee shirts and shorts, and happier still to see women go around in distinctly less.
That is perhaps what the summer really means in this part of the world. A chance to venture out, explore what has remained unseen and unexplored, live in a different way than the way we have mostly lived, meet the people we haven’t met, the strangers who are our neighbors, and simply have a grand time.
So, as the pleasant autumn air brushes my face, I must take a minute and take note that summer is about to end. At least for this year.