So THIS is England in Springtime

The weather in England does not disappoint the American stereotype of day after dreary day of soft gray cloud-cover, interspersed with what I call ‘spitting rain’, so misty that it often times is more like fog that has lost its battle with gravity. Other times it’s as if the air were so saturated that it periodically sweats out moisture throughout the day. I’ve spent the last six months living the English life. It’s no wonder these people are obsessed with the weather; you find yourself looking at endless gray in the hope of divining the probability of their turning against you whilst you’re out and about. Does that roiling bit look like rain? Better bring an umbrella just in case. I see something that may be construed as blue – maybe sunglasses are in order! (this normally proves to be misplaced optimism).

Yes, the umbrella, the rain coat, the hat. These are the ubiquitous holdings of every English denizen. Often deemed bits of foppery by Americans, little badges of honour denoting absolute Englishness like an American flag lapel pin, I now know that living here really does require these things, and you become quite attached to them. Emily and I have amassed a small umbrella collection in our time here. Cheap minis bought on the street in Canterbury (mine stays permanently housed in the right pocket of my coat, along with my gloves), slightly larger collapsible versions peppered throughout our bags and reusables, and our beloved full-size that we bought second-hand at the Gloucester Green market for £3.

But, on our return from Budapest, we must have made a wrong turn somewhere. Maybe over Brussels the pilot nodded off, nudged the controls leftward, and now we are somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. Whatever the circumstances, we seem to have stumbled upon some sort of edenic paradise where green foliage greet you like sunbursts, trees and shrubs are encrusted with delicate flowers, and the air is charged with such vibrancy that it has nearly erased any memory of that dark, dingy winter. The once-glorious Georgian Spring now pales in comparison.

The indoors are no longer our refuge. Our first week back has been a string of long days basking in the back yard. I feel transported to Summer vacation, when every day feels like a holiday. Even the royal wedding, an event I care no more about than reruns of Friends, seemed like the perfect excuse for a garden party. Of course, in English fashion, it did manage to rain. But even that was different. Sitting at a coffee shop in Summertown with some friends, I was shocked to see the first real rainstorm since leaving America. The rain drops actually pelted, rather than spit.

For the past six months I’ve wondered how they do it – how they can survive winter after winter, gray after gray, and still be cheerful. But now I see, it is Spring’s fault.

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~ by miyagisan on April 30, 2011.

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