I’m thankful that summer is coming to an end. You will probably never hear me say those words again.
When we lived in the typically gloomy, dank Northwest of the states, we always look forward to summer. Those heavenly 2-3 months of spending long days with family and friends (the sun setting around 9pm) helped us forget about the other 80% of the time when life seemed colder, cave like, and sometimes depressing. NW summers meant hiking in the Columbia River Gorge to see waterfalls, enjoying the great harvest from farms, and enjoying festivals and events. It’s a bit dramatic, but that’s how much people in the NW really enjoy their summers.
Unlike the NW, in our little area of Jamaica (and I suspect in many parts of Jamaica and the Caribbean), summer is something we endure. The days are wickedly hot and humid. We live on a plain at a low elevation shielded by some hills, which in turn means: no wind. No wind means a sauna-type climate with daily afternoon thunderstorms/showers. This might be my favourite and most annoying thing of summer. The thunderstorms, usually brief, roll over our area with crackles and booms loud enough to shake the house and dumping enough rain to create mini rivers in the yard. We both love hearing and watching thunderstorms (from inside of course).
Rain is generally welcomed here with the understanding that without it, there’s no water for daily life and nothing will grow. Daily thunderstorms, however, can be disruptive and destructive. In the town where I serve, our drains are constantly clogged because of pollution or poor construction, causing daily flooding to occur. There are a lot of communities that do not have drains or canals, and the heavy rains cause flooding and turn the dirt roads into mud traps and mosquito breeding grounds.
The storms also bring other little challenges that we’ve had to deal with in the form of bugs and mice. Because of the heavy rains, creatures of all sorts look for warm and dry shelter. (Some PC volunteers have had large land crabs in their homes to deal with.) For about two weeks, Michelle and I turned into mouse hunters, laying traps daily and successfully removing 6 mice from our home. We finally figured out that they crawled through a hole in one of our screen widows. I now have much respect for mice and maybe a slight irrational fear of them. I’ve come to realize that Michelle does a lot better dealing with mice and I can handle the cockroaches.
There’s also the game we’ve been playing with mother nature, which is: “When should we do our laundry?” Our clothes and sheets are dependent on sun to dry and in the summer, you never know when it will rain. Several times we’ve had to race back from the market on a public taxi/bus to get back in time to take our laundry down. Sometimes we are successful, but most times not so much. Somedays we will hear the thunder, take down all of our laundry and feel duped when rain doesn’t fall. The best was the time we hung our laundry on a sunny day and took a nap, only to be awakened by the thunderstorm that soaked our clothes. You win again, mother nature.
Of course, there is also the concern for possible hurricanes. Right now we are in the middle of the season and thankfully (knock on wood), it’s been a quiet one. The months of September, October, and November is when we are at the greatest risk because the ocean waters around us have been warmed by the previous months. Having gone through the last year has made us a little bit more prepared for this season.
Though not my favourite time of year, Jamaican summers have taught us to appreciate the little things. Cold showers are actually great to help alleviate the constant feeling of stickiness. Speaking of heat, I will be forever grateful for fans. One of the worse times we had was when the power went out all night, taking out our fans and any chance of sleep.
Summers here usually bring an abundance of fruit which has been great for daily smoothies. I don’t think we’ll ever get tropical fruit as affordable as we can here. Most people look forward to the mango and avocado (which are called Pears here) seasons that occur in summer. Though these two fruit (yes avocado is a fruit) only bear one season a year, they are highly coveted and- thankfully- highly bountiful when in season.
So even though summer weather will still last with us for a couple more weeks, we can be thankful that we won’t have to go through another one and we have winter to look forward to (you will probably never hear me say those words again).