June 4th, 2009
Summer has arrived.
This morning dawned bright and clear like almost every day this year, the sun beating down bright and hot as it has done almost constantly since May Day. I trundled off to my morning class trying not to sweat any more than necessary, considering how thoroughly unreliable the aircon in Teaching Building 3 is- I mean, arriving in a sweat could easily mean swimming out of class, depending on what room has been assigned.
Lunch proceeded pretty much as always. Those foreign teachers in the mood gathered in the Muslim restaurant, food and drink was ordered and consumed. Those who had afternoon classes trundled off by about 1, those of us who didn’t ordered more beer. Eventually we took the waitresses’ hints and went our various ways.
I got home and, for whatever reason, first looked at the aircon- our aircon being on a permanent standby that keeps track of the time and temperature- and saw it was 31 degrees inside. Shit, summer’s arrived. Just yesterday it was only 27 or 28.
About half an hour later, wondering why the sky was suddenly so much darker, I looked again at the aircon. 32. Right. Then the wind started picking up, but this wasn’t like the winds that have swept the city the last 3 months. This was an angry wind, a wind looking to forcefully clear a path for the storm that would follow it. Rain drops, big fat rain drops, began to smack against the window pane like stray bullets. The wind was threatening to tear the rather old outer window from its hinges, so I quickly closed it, but still it rattled as the wind tore at it.
Ten minutes later, everything is calm again, almost. A directionless, drifting wind swirled around, and dark, threatening clouds filled the sky, with an angry orange glow along the southern edge, but we’d only copped the edge of the storm.
Not long after I noticed the clouds building up again, looking like they’re getting ready for another go at scouring Beijing’s southeastern quarter clean. I decided to do a beer run before any storm hit. Beijing’s summer storms can be nasty. I stepped out the main door into a soup of thick, hot humidity, the malicious kind. I waded through to my local store, stocked up, and headed home. On the way back that latent energy was starting to look for expression. Heavy raindrops were starting to fall, an unhappily pregnant wind was starting to rough things up.
But once again, we only copped the edge of a storm. A few nasty gusts of wind scraping at the walls windows, a few buckets of rain smacking down hard, then it passes.
And the sky is still grey, but lighter and less menacing.
Summer has arrived in Beijing- heat, humidity, occasional wild winds, often threatening, rarely delivering rain.