Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Climate thinking

It's winter. The house thermometer plunged from plus 30 to upper 20. Better still, the needle on the humidity dial ticktocked back. For the past few months I've watched it, stuck at 80%. I shook it, rattled it and tapped the perspex. I thought maybe it was broken, but here it is, sinking down to a breathable 63%.

We're all relieved. For weeks we've walked around the house and islands wearing a heavy cloak of humidity. I'm sure some invisible spirit picked us out for this especial misery: when we arrived, naive and over clothed from an August chilly England, this irritating Hong Kong sprite crept up behind us, sniggered, and draped a skin of wet wool about our shoulders.

We crawled. We staggered. We paused at every turn to watch each other; are my children still breathing? I looked around to see if anyone else was wearing one too. But these Hong Kongers, they all looked normal, day to day industrious. Some men even wear dark suits. I see them, striding about the walkways. They check their watches; I check my pulse. I wonder, Why aren't you dead yet? Has the sprite not given you that invisible cloak?

Wearing it, I've had to think out each outing, minute by minute, with three hot tempered, over sticky travellers. It prevents a dash up the steps, a run against the clock, a pop down the library. I plan our progress between safety points of air con, shade, and pauses for the water bottles. Thinking is exhausting. Maybe the rotten sprite rubbed felt in my head, too.

But today, winter's coming. The cloak may be thinning. It's the first day I feel I can move properly, think ahead, do anything. I made a China timeline and stuck it on the walls where the kids climb the stairs to the roof. They can't help but pass it, Shang, Tang and Ming. Then I started talking people, politics, farming, privilege, popular activism, long marches, steel, Mao. I planned a trip to the Sun Yat Sen Museum and fantasised about a journey to Beijing.

What a difference a needle on a dial makes. Montesquieu might have been right with his climate theory. Wrong about the French, obviously. Wrong too as for hot tempered with the heat. He never passed his trousers to a totally expressionless non-speaking, non-smiling Chinese woman who you hope guards the washing machine and isn't the trouser supervisor for the Yung Shue Wan town collective. She doesn't speak: you don't know. After three days in the wet hot, you don't care, either. Even in winter, life's better without trousers.

Tell me, where are you best at? Hot dry? Hot wet? Cold dry? Cold wet?


sharon said...

Give me dry heat anytime. Here in our bit of Australia high humidity generally only happens in February/March and even then not every day. At the moment it is warming up nicely - mid/high twenties - when it gets over 30C I might consider wearing 3/4 length trousers and short-sleeved tops instead of my jeans, socks and long sleeves ;-) Acclimatised? You bet! If you decide to visit probably April/ May would be good, not too hot for you and not too cold for me lol!

Enjoy the respite from the horrid hot steamy air Grit and Gritlets, the renewed energy will have you dashing around all over the place.

Rachel M. said...

It's really true! South Florida is on the exact opposite side of the world as Hong Kong and we get the same weather! The day I came back from vacation I was delighted to find the weather had dropped 10 degrees! Putting us in balmy 80 degree weather which is perfect! 70's at night and morning. I'm in heaven.

Totally know what you mean about summers, strategy, air con and water. The only difference between you and me is I've done this for 10 years so it's a habit. But thankfully the good weather is here for the next 6 months. Yeah!!!

Deb said...

Give me perfect fall temperatures. Right now in Colorado it's just right - cool and crisp, your choice to wear a little jacket but too warm for a winter coat. The days get up to 70 (oh, sorry I don't know how to convert that to Celsius. Stupid American).

Too bad the perfect weather only lasts for about two weeks.

Elizabeth said...

so long as it's dry--I can handle either extreme! We used to have the full spectrum in New Jersey--but it never felt that bad, because in a few months it would move on. Not like the long Florida summers, or the northern winters. I do like the English climate--I could just do with about 2 hrs more of sunshine everyday! I do miss that gloriuous yellow ball!

Grit said...

i feel i've been on a tour of weather. it feels wonderful. i want to don my british nerdy hat and be off looking for a blog ring about rain round the world!

Nora said...

I'll take dry weather hot or cold. Nothing humid or wet, please. I don't like hot summers in the Netherlands because of the humidity, whereas a hot summer in California was fine. I could not live in Hong Kong. I would need permanent air conditioning and the indoors.