Monday, October 28, 2013

Seasonal Infidelity

Today I was thinking again about how I am cheating on winter.

In Canada summer is something like a reward. A light at the end of the tunnel or perhaps more aptly, a soak in a warm tub after your extremities have gone numb from the cold.

Summer is relief. Summer is joy. Summer is music festivals and buskers. Summer is long walks and bicycle tours. Summer is swimming pools and barbeques, late sunsets and cottages, canoes and hikes. Canadians bask in the summer. It is one thing, I can say with certainty, that we don't take for granted.

As soon as the temperature gets above 10, people will start wearing short sleeves in preparation for what will soon be summer. That is usually wishful thinking. Where I am from in southern Ontario, it is common to experience snow squalls after a week of warm weather that has everyone stripped down to shorts and t-shirts. But a week of warm weather is all it takes for the spirit of summer to be restored. Even a snow squall can't break the hope that a warm breeze and lengthening daylight brings.

It is an annual lesson in the cycle of opposites. Despair to hope, death to life, cold to hot. It is also a lesson of patience and struggle and depression and joy.
Which explains, perhaps, why I feel like I am cheating now that I have spent seven months in Nigeria. 

Every morning I wake to birds chirping merrily at the sun rise. Or else, birds chirping warnings about the coming rain. Everyday I can wear short sleeves to work and appreciate air conditioning. Everyday I can go swimming in an outdoor pool and take a cold shower without flinching. Everyday the sun rises just before 7 and sets just before 7.

At first, it was wonderful. Everyday at sunset I was reminded of that joy of summer. For some reason the memories that were stirred were often those of childhood when I lived in a backsplit with a vinyl kitchen floor and a eggshell yellow fridge. I was reminded of the open windows that let in the evening breeze before air conditioning was in my parent's budget. The dying light that shone through the two large windows at the front of the house like square eyes looking out from the ground, casting long domestic shadows on the walls. Damp hair and soggy bathing suits after a day in our backyard wading pool and popsicles from the Avondale convenience store, banana or chocolate, that dripped down my chin in sticky rivers of indulgence.
But now, the hot, summery weather is starting to remind me of that Eagles song, Hotel California. They say all good things must come to an end. Not if it's the weather in Nigeria.

I know that most people aren't going to take kindly to this kind of complaint. "35 degrees everyday? PSSSHHHH," they will say. 

And to be sure, there are much more pressing things I could complain about--Malaria or corruption or politics or climate change or the disparity between the rich and the poor--for some examples. But I think that for me, the most disconcerting thing about living in Nigeria is the consistent weather. It is not wrong, and yet, to me, it feels wrong. I feel disoriented by consistency. It feels like I am cheating on mother nature and playing hooky at the permanent beach.  

So perhaps the learning here, is an appreciation of winter. Perhaps my living in Nigeria will cause a flip. Instead of living for the summer, I will schedule all of my vacations to Canada between December and February. I will rejoice in blizzards and black ice. I will bury myself in snow and build the greatest snow fort known to humankind. I will move to the arctic and stay there for a few years, just to regain balance.

Anyone up for a snowball fight?

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