Grey skies, smilin' at me


By Evalyn Baron
Published June 2011

Yet again, the sun is not shining here in our new hometown, and I have to say, I like it like this.

First of all, it reminds me that I am not living in L.A., where there is rarely a day with anything but perfect blue skies and, after a while, such crystalline perfection gets even the doughtiest spirit down. I used to feel ashamed if my spirit did not match the optimistic energies of that blue sky, which made me feel even worse.

But the gracious dame San Francisco has the good sense to remind us that no one is perfect and that even the country’s most beautiful city has its days when dressing down is the perfect choice.

Veils become her. She looks gorgeous in the soft, misty grey that cloaks her this morning. And it makes me feel human. This is a town that measures us all on a human scale; something about the surrounding water reminds us of where we come from, and that we all come from that same place. The bay and the ocean, ubiquitous in these parts, remind us that life is liquid and changeable, and that we are all in the swim of it, no matter what else divides us.

And where there is water, there is weather.

Weather is a topic of daily discussion around San Francisco. Its behavior, its seasonality, its moods, its rarities, its changeability, its quirks, and its countenances are all things that people here love to tell other people about. Especially if the other people are newcomers to the city, like Peter and I are.

“Oh, you’re lucky, it’s not usually like this at this time of year,” is a comment we heard a lot the sunny month after we first moved here.

“Just wait ‘til summer! That’s when we’ll have our winter!” is another remark people relish repeating.

“You don’t want to live over there in the Sunset or the Richmond. It’s foggy over there all the time! Well, mainly in the summer. But no … too much fog!” warn some.

“Just remember, when it’s 110 degrees elsewhere, here it’s nice and cold in the summer. You can take pleasure in gloating!”

“Never put away your fall/winter stuff, because you never know when it’ll be cool by the bay.”

“If it’s foggy in the morning, it usually blows away by noon.”

And my favorite: “Give it a minute and it’ll change.” How true.

So I’ve decided that weather is just another character in the ongoing comedy-drama that is San Francisco; an ever-present character that never leaves the stage and influences all the other characters in subtle, unscripted ways. I love this weather for its very presence. I seek it out. I speak to it. I am its sister. I feel it and want it to guide me because it is so powerful, so true, so very itself, there is no other way but to relax in its powerful presence, go with it wherever it wants to take me. Sunshine is just one of its guises. Its faces are many, but I like surprises.

Earthquakes are part of the weather conversation, and this scares me. Our little family of four have “provisioned up” and discuss where we shall meet if we need to find each other when “it” happens – because I feel surely it will happen sooner than later. But what better testimony to the power of this special star in our midst – this weather – than its skill to upset the very ground we walk on: change the perspective, upset the norm, change peoples’ orientation to their own lives.

Take stage and shake things up? Stars do that. They have that particular power. And here in this town, weather is, at the very least, a leading player.

Come hell, high water, sunshine, or quake, I am a fan.

Before moving to San Francisco, Manhattan was Evalyn Baron’s long-time home. Actress, director, teacher, she worked on Broadway and at regional theaters all over the country, thanks to a bustling TV and radio career that she is happy to abandon in order to finally get some writing done.