Summer has arrived

12 Jun

I left Shanghai mid-May where there were still cool nights, jackets and no need for air conditioning.  There was a lot of rain but everything was green in a hopeful spring way.  I came back mid-June to 90 degree weather, sweat and humidity as soon as you step out the door, my glasses fogging up and trying to balance between freezing with the air conditioning on and sticky without it.  Clothes no longer dry due to the fact that humidity approaches 90% and my summer wardrobe is still packed away in the back of my closet.  The jeans and jackets I’ve lived in for the last several months are now to be retired until the cool of October returns.

Wandering through the city signs of summer are everywhere.  The impromptu watermelon stands – a truck at an intersection filled with sweet melons and a woman working a scale that is likely older than I am.  Storefronts that were vacant a few days ago now piled high with musk melon and cantelope and watermelon plus other melons that I don’t know the English names for.  They can be so sweet that the flies follow you home, attacking the juice through the plastic bag.

Pajamas have returned to the streets (and supermarket) in full force.  Men and women clad in stripes and plaids – sometimes if it is especially hot the men forgo the top half.  A couple of years ago a good friend gave me a coffee table book by a Shanghai photographer of street life here with two chapters dedicated to pajamas on the street – it’s called Planet Shanghai by Justin Guariglia. The pajama frame of mind extends later and later into the morning until sometimes they are the only thing people wear.  I still don’t understand this – but it fits with a life lived in the street, with card games in the alleys and dinner al fresco for the world to see – and comment on.

It is now hot enough that you stop getting looked at funny if you ask for a cold drink at lunch.  Ice cream stands and coolers are at the ready for all types of flavors – from green pea to corn to berry and yogurt and tofu.  I will start making popsicles as soon as I make the trip to the store for the bottle of grape juice that I’ve bought the last several summers.

Last year was a relatively cool summer except for a two or three week period at the end of July.  I am nervous that if June is already this hot July and August will be unbearable.  Waiting for the elevator I struck up a conversation with a woman in her 60s or 70s.   “Pretty hot weather today, isn’t it?”  Her response, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”  She may have been speaking mandarin, but it certainly sounds familiar to me.

How do you celebrate summer?  What signs of summer do you look for?  Has summer arrived where you are?

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4 Responses to “Summer has arrived”

  1. mona June 19, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    I arrived in Shanghai last night. When we went out for a light supper after checking into the hotel, I dressed for Phoenix nights (light-weight white blouse over a cami w/ light-weight cotton slacks). I considered taking a jacket along … oh silly me! Immediately the heat and humidity threatened to soak my clothes while my hair took on a damp texture. However, I love the weather.

    The skies have been overcast all day today, reminding me of my visit last summer. I’ll be here for 9 days and hope to experience some blue skies. Does that happen here in the summer?

    Will you have some time in the next 1 1/2 weeks to visit in person?

    ~Mona

    • gkm2011 June 19, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

      I think I sent an email to you on the address that showed up with the comment. If not, let me know. In terms of blue skies – I think Wednesday (tomorrow) looks like a pretty good day. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you! Now the weather is much better than a couple of weeks ago. Hope you stay cool!

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