I’m freezing. I’ve been shivering since landing at Sky Harbor in Phoenix last Wednesday. Phoenix is even hotter than Mazatlan. This being summertime, I didn’t expect frigid air in Phoenix. I had forgotten the airport is a converted refrigeration unit. Figuring I would not need them until I reached my destination in the middle of the night in Seattle, I had packed my sweater and jeans jacket in my checked luggage, somewhere in the bowels of an aircraft.
Within half an hour I was blue-lipped and turning into a popsicle. At the golf shop across from the gate where I waited for my next flight, I bought a windbreaker. Red. I figured red would be warmer than blue. Psychological. It was money I did not want to spend but it possibly saved my life during the five-hour layover.
When I walked through the doors after landing at Seatac, I reveled in the cinnamon spice odor of damp earth and kinick-kinick. (I knew if I closed my eyes, I could hear the plants grow.) I love Seattle. I lived in the area for 25 years. I have history here. But at 2 in the morning it was cold. I was freezing.
Two hours later, I crawled into bed in my 6-year-old granddaughter Lexi’s room. Our beds were situated side-by-side. Lexi woke up. “Oh, Grandma, I missed you.” By the time Lexi and I talked ourselves to sleep, an hour later, I finally felt warm, snugged under my down comforter.
My daughter Shea had assured me that they had been sweltering under unseasonably hot skies. “I don’t understand. It was hot yesterday,” she said. The day I arrived, the cold spell set in. I only brought one pair of light-weight long pants with me. It’s supposed to be summer, right? All my warm clothing is stored in my vehicle, also stored, in Montana, awaiting my winter trips. Which this might just turn into.
The second day here, while I sat swaddled in a blanket and shivering, Shea suggested we go to our favorite store, Goodwill. I found a pair of lovely warm pants for $10. Score!
Sunday I went to a play in Poulsbo. I am co-founder of the theater, a special place for me, packed with memories. I wanted to look extra nice for meeting old friends. I put on the only skirt I brought, along with a very summery blouse. By this time I was suffering chilblains.
Shea is a genius. An hour before Al was due to pick me up, she suggested we go to Target for a pair of tights. My lips must have turned blue again. I bought a pair of leggings and a long sleeved tee shirt, in black, to absorb sun rays should they ever appear. I can wear them beneath any and all of my summer clothes. For the first time in days I felt moderately comfortable.
All my friends here are blessing the local weather while I am blasting the same. With daytime highs nudging seventy, my friends, thick-blooded and acclimated to cool and damp, find the temperature to be a bit of heaven. I checked with my daughter in Montana and she assured me that in a few days I will experience balmy 90s.
Monday my friend Vidya picked me up. It had rained all night and was even colder. We went to Goodwill, Value Village and St. Vincent’s. I bought two more pair of pants and three flannel shirts. I’ll leave them here when I fly back to Mexico.
Tuesday, I spent the day with Kathleen and Joyce. No change in the cold and damp but I felt toasty in my new old duds. Wednesday Shea and Lexi and I went to Seattle. All bundled up, I felt like a back-country hick but I was relatively comfortable. Today I play with Lexi. She doesn’t care what I look like.
Lucky me! This weekend, we head for the coast to romp in sand and surf. I’m taking my winter wear. The coast will be cloudy, windy, cold and blustery. Everyone will look good in shorts and swimwear while I shiver on a log dressed in two pants and three shirts and a blanket, looking homeless.
Monday, Lexi and I board Amtrak at the King Street Station for an adventure trip to Montana. I’m not a superstitious person, really, I’m not. Really. But you might want to lay in a supply of wood for the stove and make sure the snow shovel is handy. I’m coming to town.
(Sondra Ashton grew up in Harlem, graduated from Northern and despite years in foreign countries such as Washington State, says Montana will always be home. Poet, essayist, former theatre director and business owner, Ashton splits her time racking up air miles between Havre including suburbs from Glendive to Great Falls and Mazatlan, Mexico. Her quirky essays can be seen at montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com. Ashton can be reached at email@example.com.)