Thursday, March 22, 2012

stripes of hot and cold / weather as sense memory

It's still only March, the first day of spring etc, but in Montreal I've worn boots and my long down coat at the end of March, so this past of week of sunny days and high temperatures feels unusual. I go for a walk with the sun beaming hot and sky beaming blue. I can sit on the deck. Wear shorts and flip flops. I know it means that the Arctic is melting, but it's hard not to enjoy the warmth and air after having been stuffed in undershirts, collars, and sleeves for months.
Since it's still only March, stray puffs of breeze tickle like they've slid off snow. The nights are cool. The mornings take a while to warm up. There's a tough, dirt-speckled edge of snow in my alley that hasn't melted yet--what's left of the waist-high blockade this guy bulldozes (illegally) away from his back gate all winter. Stone walls that don't get any sun smell dank and wet as if it were winter. Then I step out of the shadow and get blinded by the sun.
When I feel the stripes of cold and heat, the fresh mornings and hot afternoons, my body remembers the times we've travelled to warm climates during the winter. Spain, Tunisia, Mexico, Morocco. We walked across sun-bright cobblestone squares and sat at outdoor cafés in January, February, or March, luxuriating in the hot press of the sun on skin. There was always an odd tendril of breeze--down a mountain or across the water--to remind us of ice and snow. As the sun began to sink, I had to pull on the sweater hanging off the back of the chair. Return to the hotel to change from sandals to shoes.
This week I'm in Montreal, walking along Wellington in Verdun, where the sun is so hot and white that I can't tell what's inside the plate glass windows of the stores. I pass an alley that's in shadow and feel the tunnel-breath of winter. My skin remembers the Jour et Nuit where we had fresh-pressed orange juice in Agadir; sitting in the park among the plane trees in Barcelona; shopping for fruit at the market in Roma.
I'm enjoying the weather while it lasts and the memories it prompts.

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