We had a few good days in May

“We talked about the weather and this and that. Nothing to write home about.” That usually describes the average small talk chit chat.

When we lived in California, we hardly talked about the weather. It was always good – a lot like Pleasantville. Then when we lived in Utah – we would say, yeah, it’s hot in the summer and nice in the winter; it’s dry – you can sit outside in the sun in your t-shirt even with snow all around you. But beyond that it wasn’t a meaty topic of conversation.

Then I moved to Denmark and weather is a predominant point of discussion. I remember going for a job interview and we started with “the weather is terrible” and it was June. I go see my therapist and we start with “winter is back with a vengeance” before moving on to other topics of mental health. I meet anyone at all in Denmark and we talk about the weather. The weather when it sucks is a point of discussion. The weather when it’s glorious is so rare that it’s again a point of discussion.

My garden on a beautiful summer day
My garden on a beautiful summer day

Have you seen the weather forecast?

I heard a rumor that it’s going to be 12 degree (C) on Sunday. Almost summer. (Yeah right. When the fuck did 12 degree C become almost summer?)

Spring is never going to come.

This year we didn’t quite have summer, did we? We sort of moved from winter to fall.

It was so warm yesterday – we spent the whole day doing garden work.

And my all-time Danish favorite: we had a few good days in May.

When I first moved to Denmark I heard that a lot. Every time anyone said anything bad about the weather post May (because you want it to be warm in June through October), someone would defensively say, “But we had a few good days in May.”

Now that I have lived here for a decade, I do it too. I realize that it’s a defensive mechanism against committing suicide or falling into a clinical depression because it seriously sucks outside. Seriously. When it’s still relentless and cold in June and you are craving just a little heat you slowly start to go out of your mind.

And my other favorite, “There’s no bad weather – just bad clothes.” My husband said that to me a lot when we first met and also said how he didn’t like it too hot because you could only take these many clothes off. He’s changed though. Now he thinks blistering heat is okay. Anything but this relentless damp, gray dullness peppered with snow storms and rain storms and cold is okay. He thinks forty degrees with high humidity might be uncomfortable but is certainly welcome. He remember the muggy nights in Memphis fondly and keeps saying, “We need to move back to the US.” He’s really saying we need to move to better weather.

I spoke to a friend of mine who lives in Miami and he said, “Every day the sun is shining the sky is blue – it’s hard to be pissed at the world.” It was an eye opener. I’m not temperamental I just live in a place with crappy weather.

Danes in winter hibernate and are grumpy. Come summer, they take their clothes off in public and lie topless in parks and beaches. They open up. They become friendly. They sometimes even smile at you when you’re walking on Strøget, the walking street, in the city.

The weather affects our mood. No doubt about it. No wonder there’s a high rate of suicide in Finland where they have it worse. It’s the lack of sun. I was at a hospital today, touring an ICU department and was told that in the ICU they like to keep the “awake” critically ill patients in rooms with windows because without the sunlight that produces the happy drug serotonin, patients can get depressed.

The other day we had a global meeting so there were people in our Copenhagen office from around the world. A marketing manager from Madrid said, “We’re lucky we didn’t come last week – it was snowing here.” I said I wasn’t lucky. I live in Copenhagen.

I mentioned how lucky she was to live in Madrid. A colleague from St Petersburg spoke up then, “You’re lucky you don’t live in Russia. It’s common to have snow in May.”

And then a colleague of mine from Brazil said, “See, Amulya, someone always has it worse than us.”

I responded, “But so many, many, many have it better.”

And it’s true. This past weekend the news of spring was greatly exaggerated. We were getting increasingly frustrated. My husband was looking at temperatures in various cities around the world and had to check with weather in Winnipeg to feel better because the rest of the world, even Stockholm was going to be a couple of degrees warmer than Copenhagen.

I love living in Denmark, except for the weather and the taxes…and the customer service.

On a summer day I want to be nowhere else but Copenhagen, sitting at an outdoor café, sipping a glass of cold white wine while the whole city comes to life. And today as the temperature crept up to a balmy summerlike 16 degrees C – we all applauded and talked relentlessly about how wonderful it was outside and how sad that we were inside a meeting room. I wanted to be out on my patio with a glass of cold white something.

Soon the sun will shine. Out serotonin levels will go up. Skirts will become shorter (as my husband says). The sun will not set until midnight. And all will be right in our world…unless it rains all through summer and then that’s a whole different story.

The walking street on a summer day
The walking street on a summer day
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