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Chasing Summer

sunflowers in Calgary – August 2017

Last year as we travelled around the world, we had a desire to stay warm. We wanted to be living in sunshine. As the days began to shorten in Canada and fall was in the air, we arrived in Barcelona where it felt like we had dropped back into summer. It was only the last two weeks of our two month stay that we had to turn the heat on in our apartment. The stone floor was just not heating up enough in the daytime.

Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain – November 2017

While Spain was getting cooler with the shortening days, there was still plenty of sunshine. That sensor in my brain that responds to bright days was working fine, even if we had to put on jackets to go outside. I guess the anticipation of heading South to the tropics was playing a role as well. For the next two and a half months we would prepare for our excursions outside by knowing the heat index or when the monsoon rain would occur.

Bayon temple, Cambodia – December 2017

While the temperatures near the equator are pleasant in the months which are normally spent shivering in the dark back home, the weather is not really typical for summer. The quality of the light is different and the air is heavy with moisture, even when it is not raining. If there is a slight breeze, it doesn’t serve to cool the air enough to provide a wind chill. The smell of the day as you make your way through it is intense, permeating everything.

Sea temple, Bali – January 2018

I knew what our experience would be like in Asia, I had travelled there many times before. But never for such a long period of time. I can see why life moves at a little slower pace. There was an afternoon in Bali when my daughter suffered from a little heat stroke. Nothing too terrible but as we cut our outing short, our driver was confirming it to be a little hot that day, even for him.

Riding the MTR, Hong Kong – February 2018

All the average temperature predictions in the world are not crystal balls. As we headed up to Hong Kong last February, we slammed right back into cool weather. Unusual for the area as residents were being told not to light gas heating appliances inside their flats. My friend’s apartment was typical for the region with air conditioning in every room but no heat. We probably used the same amount of energy with electrical plug in heaters, rotating throughout the small rooms. 

Boulders Beach, Simon’s Town – February 2018

Heading back to the South we landed in South Africa and spent almost a month in Cape Town. We had arrived in a place where we instinctively knew what to expect, but everything was happening in the wrong months. In the Northern hemisphere February is showing a glimmer of Spring. In the South, fall was in the air. Since the region was suffering from a massive drought period, the warmth of the sun was holding tight. Even the incredible winds only provided a slight cooling. Rain was nowhere in sight.

“Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise!” -Wallace Stevens

We couldn’t stay down there beyond our welcome, so we decided to go back to Europe. Unlucky again, we had one of the coolest Spring seasons on record for much of our 7,000 kilometer car journey across the region. It would prove to be a very slow transition into warmer temperatures. Probably that made the sunny days all that more enjoyable. By the time we arrived home in late June, we knew the season had also been slow to change as the heat was still on in our house from the tenants. We got to enjoy the best of summer at home, with long warm days.

Flash back to this year and the auspicious start to spring. With snow still hitting the ground in early March, I had my doubts for a quick transition. Then, all of the sudden the heat got turned on. For the last two weekends I have been able to sit outside on my patio and enjoy the warmth of the sun, giving my skin a healthy glow. It has felt heavenly. I travelled far and wide for early spring weather that got served up here in my hometown. Who would have thought it?

I guess the trick is to get outside and enjoy whatever comes. Not every day can be sunny and warm and who would want it even if you could have it? The warmth of early spring is made all the more special because of the cold winters which came before it. The trees have buds, ready to open. Flowers are popping up through the earth and showing off their colors. The grass is growing again, in a color of most intense green. All senses are heightened to the beauty of what is coming.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the tropics. I could get used to warmth, sun and rain which blanket the region. And there is so much more left to explore of the world which hugs the equator. I especially marveled at seeing house plants outside. I recognized all these different types of exotic varieties which we tenderly care for in the North and don’t dare to take outside to brave our temperatures, even in the summer time. In Bali, I saw these type of plants growing wild by the side of the road. It was amazing.

What I know for sure is, I receive a signal which comes from the intense light of the sun, turning something on inside of me. Days when there is a fair amount of sunshine are really much better for me. Even if I can’t be outside for the cold air or I have to stay inside and work, I still perform and feel so much better with the light. It is as if I am a different person. I’m not sure how to replicate that feeling. I don’t think there is a pill or a synthetic light which will give me the same effect.

So the idea that a person can chase summer around the globe is a bit of a fallacy. Not only is not always possible, it is often not as sweet. Without coming through the lows of fall and winter, spring and summer are not the same kind of peak experience. What goes up, must come down and vice versa.

I guess it is best to be grateful for what we have in the moment. The days have a rhythm as they cycle through the calendar of the year. Depending on where you happen to be at any given time on the planet, the experience is always varied. But there is also an interesting type of ‘knowing’ that comes from staying in one place, year after year.  

For more details about how we experienced the seasons, part way through our trip – check out ‘When You Can’t Tell The Season by Looking Out The Window‘.

If you feel inclined to experience the start of fall here in my hometown, stay-tuned to dailycreatives. I am preparing for the first CreaSpaTreat September 20-22, 2019.

CreaSpaTreat is an immersive, retreat experience. Treat yourself to practice creativity in this beautiful setting. Enter a unique space, without life’s regular distractions. Ten like-minded women will gather in Crescent Beach & White Rock to share, learn, socialize and exercise our hearts and minds.

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