“Dark and Dirty”

Published 2007-04-11

The weather today has cleared, the first break of warm weather since the Marathon, almost two weeks ago. This after a couple days of heavy rain. (Jenny said, this morning: “Xiamen has two seasons too cold and f*ing hot.” With the better weather I notice my attitude lifting substantially. Such a thing happened (every winter!) in Oregon, with its long, dark, wet, cold winters, but never to such a degree. Which makes me wonder (as does every phenomenological anomaly): WHY?

I was talking about this with a coworker from Vancouver (BC) who noticed the same thing. I said I think it has something to do with the pollution. Xiamen has had 6 months of dark, gray, chilly weather but it‘s been a) bone dry and b) the partial result of a constant pallor of airborne filth. My coworker used this phrase to describe it, I think perfectly: “dark and dirty.” Pacific Northwest winters are dark, sure, but that darkness has a kind of ancestral swamp feeling to it; it puts me to mind of Druids with antler headgear sacrificing virgins to the Sun God, or something. It‘s the primeval darkness of waiting, of potentiality, of dreams and visions. The darkness here has a Blade Runner feel to it. The darkness at the end of the world, light erased, not merely held back.

Two Moreover, Pacific Northwestern culture (and Northern European Culture) internalizes this seasonality. Thus the bookstores and brewpubs. Having these islands of refuge where we ritually celebrate Darkness makes it worth enjoying. This is half of why I prefer Oregon winters to Oregon summers. (The other half is that Oregon winters are about 20 degrees warmer than Nebraska winters, so you can keep riding bicycles without losing toes.) There is no local equivalent to bookstores and brewpubs; the closest analogues are tea houses, most of which are conducted out of doors anyway. Xiamen really deserves to be a tropical culture, but the climate just isn‘t cooperating.

Anyway, thank God for the sun.