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Dangerous Compassions

seasons change

My dear friend asked me a question, and I thought I would answer as a blog post.  This is about how seasons change and I change along.

summer’s ordeal

Summer is a long ordeal here.  May it starts getting hot, and then June through September is blazing.  October can be hot still.  So almost half of the year is summer, here.

I had known heat when I lived in Sacramento, which gets Central Valley high temperatures.  But it cools off there at night, with a Delta Breeze, and the heat is mostly in waves.  It’ll be hot for four or five days, then back down to the high 80s or low 90s for a while.

I’m classifying anything over 92 or 93 as hot.  Well, I can be ok up to 100, if I work at it.  Sacramento apartments I lived in had wall unit air conditioners which were a struggle to work with, and I was always poor, worried about paying the electric bill.

The heat here is different.  It doesn’t cool off at night.  The high every single day is over 100, for months straight.  I remember my first summer here, I was amazed.  I looked at the weather prediction and was like, “This must be some kind of joke.”  Every day the high was 105, 108, 109, as far as the eye could see.  Yes, I was living in hell.

poverty

Rich people have climate control and fancy cars–they can be comfortable in their bubble.  Meanwhile, in the real world, the show must go on.  Poor people are walking to the store, waiting at the bus stop, breaking down in their car and standing by the side of the road.  It’s hazardous.  People who are disabled are screwed extra.

It’s not an ok world, in summer.  It’s like a five month emergency, and I’m like–do you all see the emergency that’s happening here?

The transit agency puts adverts on buses and signs.  They say to drink water and wait for the bus in a nearby business.  But usually that requires money.  And if you drink water, where do you pee?  “Wear sunscreen,” their ads say, and it’s like–what?  If the bus is late, and there is no shelter, for the vast majority of stops–it’s 111 degrees outside, and human well-being means nothing.

Pagan Pride

My particular body doesn’t like the heat.  It could have to do with my fatness, but some thin people are like this too.  I’ve had my thyroid tested over and over, but test results say it’s fine.  Where I come from, it doesn’t get hot, so to me, the heat here is ever-bewildering.

I was at an outdoor event in October, two years ago, tabling at Pagan Pride.  It got up to around 100 degrees outside.  Tried to be brave and tough, drinking water and staying in the shade.  I didn’t want to abandon Ming and make him table alone.  But I was suffering badly and needed to retreat indoors.

I was really hot and couldn’t cool down, which scared me.  So then I was anxious too, confused why my body was needing something so different from everyone else’s.  Other fat people were around, but it was just me.  Someone gave me a ride home.  It took hours for me to get down to an ok temp.

Everyone around me was walking around at the event like it was a normal day.  Or they would complain, “Oh my god, it’s so hot,” but keep walking around.  I couldn’t do anything.  I was afraid I had heat stroke.  Probably it was heat exhaustion.

I realized deeper, that day, that all bodies are different, and I need to honor what my body needs, whether it “should” need that or not.  If everyone else is fine, that’s irrelevant.  Nowadays I listen to my own body, feel my sensations and feelings, honor what I need, and ignore the judgments of others.  I need different things, and what other people think I should need is nothing to me.

This is a good lesson for my disabilities, sexuality, values, how I spend my time, and other differences as well.  I’m valid.

fall

Freaks me out, as seasons change.  Part of me doesn’t believe in time maybe, that anything exists besides what’s now.  So the wheel turns, and I’m like–what?  Uh…what???

Our house is old for Las Vegas and doesn’t have central air or heat.  We used swamp coolers only, for our first four years here, then got portable air conditioners that go in two windows.

For heat, we use space heaters.  It’s late November and mostly hasn’t been cold yet.  We used the heater in the bedroom for a week or so, but it warmed up again.  It’s around 52 degrees outside, at 4am, and 69 degrees here at my desk.  I feel comfortable.

darkness

The variation in light is a big deal.  I like darkness–I feel more myself and comfortable, at night.  It feels inward, cozy, comforting.  Rest and quiet are my favorite things.  I love to write, in the night when everyone else is sleeping.  And I don’t feel bad for staying home.  I go out at night rarely–almost never.

Sunlight feels great sometimes, and I want vitamin d.  I love plantlife and going outside in the early morning for a trike ride or a walk, or just to see what’s happening on the street and in the garden.

But I’m ok indoors a lot.  I tend toward agoraphobia.  Years ago I felt horribly guilty for that.  Lately with covid, it’s more fine than ever, to stay home.

And like I said above, I want to pay attention to what I need and give that to myself.  Tons of stressors hurt me, out in the outside world.  From sensory sensitivities, I get hurt by loud engines, smelly exhaust, and being jarred in a car as we hit potholes or Ming has to slam on the brakes.

Also I’m hurt by idea things, such as cops, advertising, ugly buildings built for capitalism, car traffic–observing how the city exists for making money, not the safety and pleasure of all.

moods

I don’t get particularly depressed in the fall and winter.  The holidays are challenging, especially as my mom is dead now.  But I don’t do holiday shopping or much celebrating.

Probably more in the summer, I get depressed.  The cooped up feeling can be a challenge, since outdoors is only habitable for me from sunrise to one hour after sunrise, due to the heat.

Sometimes I feel locked up at home with the electrical devices that keep me cool.  Businesses are often only open when it’s blazing hot outside, so if I do need to go out, I suffer a lot, walking through a parking lot or before the car’s ac gets cool.

Ming is much better with heat than I am.  It doesn’t bother him much at all.

holy

I’ve thought we should move away from the desert.  I wanted to give up–my body just can’t do it.  But every year it gets easier, as I figure out how to be.  I love our communities here, and we’re doing work that I believe in.  Strangely, I love Las Vegas, overall.

Living in the desert feels sacred to me–I’ve always loved the desert as a holy place.  I idealized Georgia O’Keeffe, painting in the desert, and even as a kid, one of the few things I understood about Jesus mythology was going to the desert to pray.

Now the southwest is my home.  It’s an honor to be here, loving the desert and trying to care for it.  Summer feels like the price I pay, for living here, and the extreme state of its heat is a lesson and weird interesting test.

now

I like fall the best, my favorite.  It feels like new beginnings, when seasons change, and my birthday is right at the cusp, between summer and fall.  I like wearing soft sweatshirts.  It feels way easier to sleep.

Who I am feels better, in the fall and winter.  That seems to be my natural state.  It doesn’t snow here, most years, and any snow doesn’t last, in the valley.

I feel free–I can do whatever I want.  Garden any time, ride trike any time, even go for a walk in the afternoon.  The freedom feels amazing.

Summer is like an illness.  Fall and winter, I feel better, starting new projects, bringing new ideas and people into my life.  I feel more like meditating.  Also, it’s ok to use the oven, so I do more baking and make different foods, like roasting root veg and squash.

harvest fest
{Squash and sweet potatoes are on a counter, ready for a feast.]
yep

Fall and winter feel like life should be.  I run too up, toward anxiety and hypomania.  So the soothing darkness, when seasons change, helps me calm down.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

2 replies on “seasons change”

Laura-Marie,
Thank you for explaining all this so well. I especially like that you speak inclusively of all beings, all the matters, all the relations. So often, people just flip the switch for comfort, without thinking about its true price in the whole of earth being. And yet, and yet, here we are, needing, sometimes gasping, for air and relief…

I dont know how you do it in the summer there. I melt here at 80 degrees. It is humid, though. It gets difficult to breathe. My limbs go weak. I am completely lethargic. I appear, for the past many years, to get sick with something, thyroid, vertigo, gastritis, inflammation, chronic fatigue, or an acute thrombocytopenia episode, for a month or 3 in the summer, and all my projects fall apart, the garden weeds over, garden food gets wasted. I really need help and get ashamed and dont ask for it. Sometimes I float, in total surrender, neutral space because of so much unknown about my situation, sometimes I am depressed, sometimes I just BE and am getting by, and need a lot of help, and then that is good for the others, to practice taking care of me. Michael learned he could make me food.

I have read that as we get older, our bodies are less adept at adjusting to extremes of heat and cold. Michael has a very hard time in the heat, and in the cold. This is the first summer I considered agreeing to getting air conditioning. He has wanted it for a few years. I feel really badly about using the electricity, making heat and co2, to create cool comfort for ourselves. It feels like, hey, why should I contribute that pollution for my personal comfort? It feels so wrong. Especially because, he can just go sit in the creek for half an hour(i cannot, my hair falls out and i get the above sick list if I get in cool or cold water… my banished mermaid issue, another story…)
Also, our house is getting moldy in summer. That feels really sad. Mold is hard on me, and our house has been free of it up until now.

So I dont know if I could handle it either. You are strong to do as well as you do, feeling fine or managing alright in the 80s and 90s.

Those pictures i sent of our little tiny wedding? Those were at Ghost Ranch, Georgia O’Keefe ‘s place in New Mexico.
Michael and I wanted to consider moving to New Mexico or Arizona. We each took a trip out there, about 20 years ago, one at a time. And my verdict was, my soul feels so vibrant in these places, I feel so connected, but I cannot justify stealing more water from the earth out there. I cannot be another one, sucking the water up.
I chose this land, here, in damp generous NC mountains, because it had already been spoiled by human activity, possibly for more than a thousand years, by Cherokee, before European intruders, and by European intruders aplenty. I love the wild, but I did not want to spoil more wild. I am part of the problem of too many domesticated creatures on earth, and I didn’t want to spoil unspoiled land.
I have been told im self defacing, act like im undeserving. But, i am one of billions. We are the ones, defacing the earth. A little self defacing would do us all some good. We would reap the interest of our self defacements in future generations.
I can make the little choices I can, to be less harmful. But I have definitely deprived myself of things I could have chosen, that I feel its not truly necessary for the earth that I have or do for my increased feeling good.

30 years ago, I built what I thought was my home for many years, a little cabin in the woods, just with wood milled nearby, hand saw, and hammer, and old reclaimed slate roof shingles, with only a stream for water, no electricity, no phone. It mirrored my values perfectly and ideally.
Then divorce, leaving that, and moving back into regular civilization. Leaving my ideals. Electricity. Phone. Gosh, phones were hard. Electricity was disruptive.
Now… i use wifi… all the time. I have a friend I treasure across the rolling rupturing roiling flat and peaking and percolating earth of turtle island, who i ask, how would i have found, in my little cabin in the forest with no wifi and no electronic device?
I am left with…
Well, a little unhinged after that mental journey.
Breathe. I have adjusted to changes. I have new skills. My world has expanded. I can drive in a busy city without crashing. I actually have a cell phone. I can adjust and enjoy rap or electric music(it used to make me cry)I have wifi and electric pollution in my own home and appear to be surviving it. I know I will not have to live forever, so maybe its okay. I don’t have to last forever.
When I feel a cavity, I always do the math…
Okay, Gramma is 104…. how many more years do these teeth have to work for?
….104-52… okay, 52 more years. Should last alright. Or, if I get that pulled, hey, I never had my wisdom teeth out, so I can gnaw on stuff with those. Teeth are like gold to me. I just couldn’t get them pulled, especially with a name like ‘wisdom’ attached to them. It sounded like a gift from my ancestors.
I know this sounds rambly, but these all relate to me.
This is how:
Me, one of billions, one earth, i am so small, what matter my complaints, what matter my comforts, mixed with, taking care of myself, making sure I am healthy enough to be able to contribute to humans and to earth, taking care of earth, taking as little as I can. Doing the math, of, say, dental surgery pollution, vs, me with a fancy new tooth, that might actually poison me in the short term anyway. Me and earth have a lot in common. We both get poisoned by so called improvements.

I would be so happy to have a great idea to give you.
Dig a deep hole under the house and move down there for 6 months a year? I would be dark! Just come out at 5 am?
I am de-functioned by heat and humidity. I don’t know what a person can do.
Except for, take care of yourself.
And here, I finally smile, and urgency begins to release.
Because you are beautifully qualified in that way.
With much love and deep respect,
Heather

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