Letters from Home

Let the Sun Shine!

For those of you ooohhing and aahhing over the excitement of life in London, I can tell you that there is one downside: the season they call “winter.”This isn’t really a “season” or anything like “winter” (except that Christmas takes place during it); no, it is just a VERY long extension of the worst possible day you can imagine during your average late Midwestern autumn (snowfall not included).

For example, the sun has not shone here, not in any interval longer than, say, 5 seconds, since December 28. (Yes, that is 23 days). Until TODAY! Yippee! Well, sort of.January sun in London

It might have been longer than that. I can’t say for sure, as I was in Canada, enjoying the beautiful weather (and no, I am not being sarcastic). I can say, however, that the last time I saw the sun, until today, was at approximately 36,000 feet and descending into London airspace.

Absence makes the heart lonely. Sometimes it makes it frustrated and tired and sad. Perhaps fonder, too, but it is not at the top of the list.

The winters in London are known, primarily, for being indiscriminate. Remember that guy, his name was Todd, and he sat next to you in social studies in ninth grade? Kind of a sad sack with a moon face? No? Well, such is London weather. Indiscriminate, soggy, and flavorless. Not entirely unlike most English cooking.

Weather is only worth having around, I think, if it keeps you on your toes.

For example, in Ottawa, Ontario, while we visited for 10 days at Christmas, we would have been very bothered if we hadn’t brought our sunglasses. The glare off the new snow is like hearing a high C from a opera diva. But the weather never lets up, thankfully. We bought new hats to keep our ears warm, a must in the continual, minus-freezing temps. We had to add extra time to our plans to go anywhere so we could run out and warm up the car and scrape off the frost or ice. We had to adjust the way we drove so we didn’t fishtail into the Clemont family’s mailbox. We wore our boots to drudge through the snow and slush that was everywhere. And we packed our slippers to keep our socks dry and our toes warm in the house after we pulled off our boots.

London weather decision: Tiny umbrella or no?

But then, that really isn’t much of a decision, as it seems to rain at least a little bit everyday. Umbrellas are compact and easy to carry, there is usually a building, doorway or taxi nearby if you get caught out in it without one, and we are wearing our coats anyway.

But it isn’t just the lack of sun, for me. Lately, I’ve been feeling closed in too. The clouds, plus the cold-damp, plus the oppressive grey-brown-beige buildings on every side: they start to box me in after awhile. A few days ago, I pulled on a turtleneck– my standard dresscode– and found myself strangling. I tore it off and frantically texted my friend Frances.

“Help! Fed up with turtlenecks!”

We went shopping, bought a few V-necks and some T-shirts. I felt a little better.

What I realized, though, as I felt the sun on me today, finally, was I really miss the Midwest. I hear it when I listen to some of my music, especially the country folk songs that I like.

Lately, I listen to Shawn Colvin sing “Wichita Skyline” and I want to be driving out across the flatlands of Kansas to see my little sister. Although I always loved her, I didn’t see her enough when I lived nearby.

And although I always loved the change in the sky, the clouds cutting across the muggy Missouri afternoons, I didn’t love them enough when I was there.

Wichita Skyline

Down at the train they go to Independence everyday.
But anywhere else now… seems like a million miles away
And I must have been high to believe that I would ever leave
Now I’m just a flat, fine line, like the Wichita skyline

I rode on the airstream across the great lonesome afternoon
I wished hard enough to hurt, drove fast enough to catch the moon.
But I must have been dreaming again,
‘Cause there’s nothing around the bend
Except for that flat, fine line, the Wichita skyline

As far as Salina I can get that good station from LaRue
I’m searching the dial while I’m scanning the sky for a patch of blue
And I watch the black clouds roll in
Chasing me back again
Back to the flat, fine line, the Wichita skyline

— by Shawn Colvin & John Leventhal

3 thoughts on “Let the Sun Shine!

  1. Love your new picture! Although clinging to a pole may of more closely captured your inner desires.

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