My Mom was very tuned in to the weather. She liked to sit outside on the deck in her folding chair, next to her potted flowers, looking at the changing skies, pointing out clouds of interest. As long as it wasn't raining or too chilly, she'd be out there.
If the skies were full of heavy, threatening clouds, she would look up and say, 'Ominous nimbus' and she had a real thing about thunderstorms. They fascinated and scared her in equal measure. Mom was born and raised in Florida, home to some of the most ferocious lightning and ear-splitting thunder so she had a healthy respect for these frightening storms and their fierce intensity.
Mom had an uncanny ability to predict the end of summer, a meteorological talent that used to really upset us. Before we could detect even the smallest discernible change in air temperature or a mellowing of that white-hot summer sun, Mom would tilt her chin upwards, gaze at the clear blue sky, and make her pronouncement: 'Summer is over.'
And she would be right. As if on cue, the days would cool down, the rains would come, and before we knew it, we'd be throwing wood on the fire. We dreaded her announcement.
Mom was also sensitive to the changes in mood that weather could bring. Sometimes damp days would make her sinuses 'get excited', cold weather often gave her chilblains, and day after day of grey skies would bring her down - not a lot, but enough that we'd notice. I remember when I left New Zealand to live in Seattle, Washington, the seemingly endless rain that had a relentless, steady way of falling almost did me in. I wasn't used to the seemingly infinite dreary shades of grey, black, and dark green of the Pacific Northwest: I was used to bright sun, blues skies, and rain that came, did it's thing, and then buggered off.
At the start of our four-week stay-at-home, the weather was grand: day after day of sun and warmth, little or no wind, the sea all those gorgeous shades of green and blue, white-winged gulls flapping about, and people out enjoying it all.
The last few days have been colder, rainy and squally, this morning is low-cloud grey with some drizzle and once again, a cold westerly blowing up the Gulf and my feet are cold. People are hunkered down. They're not coming out much. Our neighbourhood is like High Noon before the Gunfight at the OK Corral.
Yesterday we were met with less optimism from our officials and more deaths from a nursing home 'cluster', families unable to see their loved ones before they died or gather for memorials and funerals, unable to say goodbye. The greyness of the day and the chill of the air reflects the communal sadness we feel. The mood is low. We're tired. I suspect most people in my street are still in bed and I'd like to be.
So let's face it. When the sun is out, we can get out, and we can handle things better. The brightness brightens our mood.
When it's not, things feel bleaker, the news feels grimmer, and the rain feels colder.
Maybe the sun will come out later on today and the daily TV briefing from government at 1pm will bring some good news.
I hope so.