During Wind and Rain

My title has two purposes.

The first is simply to update people who may or may not care about the oddness of the weather we’ve been having this winter.  The second is to invoke the poem of the same title by Thomas Hardy. 

First things first.  For those who don’t know or realize, The Bahamas straddles the Tropic of Cancer.  Glossy billboards notwithstanding, the majority of Bahamians live in the temperate zone — or, more accurately, the subtropical zone that they share with South Florida.  If you look at the map next door, you’ll see that the southernmost points in Florida are actually further south than I am.

The upshot of that is that most of us in The Bahamas get two major seasons, summer and winter.  We also get a whiff of spring and autumn too, though they are fleeting and marked by a lack of rainfall, bright days and breeze (spring) and a lot of rainfall, windy days, and cool nights (autumn).  Summer is hot and muggy and wet, and hurricanes have been troubling us during the recent decade or so.  Winter is dry and cool, and clear and fine, and the only rainfall we get is when cold fronts sweep in from the continent.

Our daylight varies quite considerably, too, far more than other Caribbean nations.  In the summer it gets light around five-thirty and dark around eight-thirty, and in the winter it gets light around seven and gets dark around  five-fifteen. (We do daylight savings time, so you do the adjustments).

This autumn/winter was most peculiar.  There was tropical storm activity up to early December (I can remember a time when the hurricane season in the north Atlantic was  considered to be June-September, and then that was changed to May-October, and now it’s May-November), though we weren’t really troubled with anything of significance.  But the mugginess didn’t go away, as it tends to do come October-November.  Oh, the rain sort of stopped, and there was definitely less haze and more brightness, but Christmas was the warmest I remember for a while.  What was more unusual, though, was the warmth of New Year’s Eve.  Christmas and New Year’s parties usually would have children standing outside breathing hard into the air and shouting with glee because they could see their breath.  This Christmas wasn’t that cold, but it was comfortable enough to wear long sleeves without breaking into a sweat.  But New Year’s …?  Ha.

And then New Year’s Day blew in the coldest snap of a couple of years.

Not as cold as January 2003, mind you, where the weather was unusually cold for a good two weeks or so, so cold that there was frost on a regular basis in the northern Bahamas (further north than Ft Lauderdale), but blustery and overcast and so chilly and damp that people got sick really fast (me, I lost my voice).  So cold in Florida, apparently, that iguanas were dropping out of trees.  And the new year has been wintry — overcast and breezy when the temperature’s dropping, and clear as glass and cool-aired when it’s not.

And now on to the second thing. My friends just keep on dying.  You think it’s over, and then it’s not.  People who have been part of my personal and professional and creative life are standing up, facing Jordan, and crossing over without looking back.

And so you might understand — you should understand — why my thoughts ran on Hardy today.  There was wind, rain, and loss.  And so:

THEY sing their dearest songs– 
He, she, all of them–yea, 
Treble and tenor and bass. 
And one to play; 
With the candles mooning each face…. 
Ah, no; the years O! 
How the sick leaves reel down in throngs! 

They clear the creeping moss– 
Elders and juniors–aye, 
Making the pathways neat 
And the garden gay; 
And they build a shady seat…. 
Ah, no; the years, the years; 
See, the white storm-birds wing across! 

They are blithely breakfasting all– 
Men and maidens–yea, 
Under the summer tree, 
With a glimpse of the bay, 
While pet fowl come to the knee…. 
Ah, no; the years O! 
And the rotten rose is ripped from the wall. 

They change to a high new house, 
He, she, all of them–aye, 
Clocks and carpets and chairs 
On the lawn all day, 
And brightest things that are theirs…. 
Ah, no; the years, the years; 
Down their carved names the raindrop plows. 

Thomas Hardy


2 thoughts on “During Wind and Rain

  1. I got all that cold a bit before you did, and I definitely felt like dropping out of my tree myself. This is the Deep South fer cripes’ sakes — it ain’t supposed to do that down hyere.

  2. Yes, from what I could tell it was chillee. I, however, was wrapt up in bed from throat to toe and didn’t poke any appendage outside for three days or more, so I really couldn’t swear to it.


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