“Shall I Compare Thee To a Summer’s Day?”

By , June 1, 2019

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate”

—William Shakespeare, Sonnet XVIII

As the bard says further on in this famous sonnet, “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May.” We’re experiencing a change in weather, a change—to my mind, at least—to more “summery” weather.

Mud Bay, Alaska

Lupine blooming at the trailhead on Mud Bay, with the Chilkat Range in the distance (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

In primary school, we’re taught to identify each of the seasons by a single feature. Sunshine, universally, symbolizes and identifies summer in North America.

But, for me, it doesn’t feel like summer until the weather turns more like today’s. The bright sunshine has faded to greater cloud cover, and the threat of rain. It’s that threat, that warm cloudiness, that feels more like summer to this child of Southeast Alaska!

I recall that in my teens, I dreamed of sun-drenched summers. Back then, our family custom called for a trip “down south” every other year. I eagerly anticipated those years, when we might visit relatives in California.

However, I always got a funny feeling at a certain point in those trips. Inevitably, we passed through western Washington, specifically the Seattle and Tacoma area, where all transportation from Southeast Alaska inevitably terminates, and where we have extensive family. All of our family’s southern vacations launched from that region. Generally, we got a car from my uncle, and drove to other destinations, sometimes merely east of the Cascade Range in Washington. Eventually, we’d find the hot summer sun, and bask in its warmth.

As we headed toward home, however, we’d return to the Pacific Northwest, which almost always meant passing from hot sun to cooler, cloudier, even rainy days.

That’s when the the funny feeling would come: I’d feel a sense of relief, of relaxation, like flopping down in a comfy, overstuffed chair after a hard day’s work. That feeling came from the weather, which felt more like the “real” summer weather of my Southeast Alaskan home.

So, perhaps I may be forgiven for the feeling of excitement I felt when I stepped outside last night around 10 p.m. and felt the soft, warm air of a cloudy evening. Today, as we hauled gear out to the car, and returned with other goods to pack in, I felt an odd sense of relief as we raced across the bay before a rain squall swept up Lynn Canal and let loose on our heads.

It feels, finally, like a summer’s day.

Mud Bay, Alaska

Looking toward the mouth of Mud Bay, with the Coast Range in the distance (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

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