A Distant North


Nouméa, New Caledonia – January 2004

I look out of my refrigerated prison. Palm trees stand inert, exhausted in the sweltering heat. I want cool, fresh air, not this stagnant morgue. I want winter!

“Think of all the poor people in the North who are freezing right now,” my husband reminds me.

So, I daydream of snow, slush, sleet. Icicles stuck to frozen mittens. Glacial winds whipping against my bare face, making me cry.

Thunder rumbles. The vibrations shake me to reality. I jump up, slip on my flip-flops, and run outside into the leaden afternoon. I stand expectantly in the street staring up at the menacing sky. The palm trees rustle in the rising wind. A few furtive raindrops brush my face. Then, as if the sky itself were a dam, the floodgates are thrown open. The rain’s force nearly knocks me to the ground.

Take that, it seems to say. Then, as quickly as it arrived, it moves on.

Steam begins to rise from my body. This has been no respite at all. I stand here as drenched and limp as seaweed. Defeated.

From the window my husband beckons me back into the artificial chill and soothing daydreams of a distant North.


43 thoughts on “A Distant North

  1. Ah! I wanted to know more! I’ll be heading to Nouméa next year.

    A place that really stuck to me only because a friend who was moving there told me how there are crabs near the island that live off eating coconuts. As a result they taste like crabs+coconuts themselves!

    Hope you got to have some of them.

  2. I really enjoyed the contrast of the place and your daydreams …. I can almost feel the cool ‘steam’ rise from your contemplative words.

  3. Julie, such a beautifully written post, as always. I can relate to those daydreams at the moment, actually. It’s currently like I died and went to hell. Happy weekend!

  4. The pictures you posted are beautiful. I can understand why you’d want winter right now. I’ll trade you my freezing cold Canadian winter for your New Caledonia haven. I love the narrative you provided by the way, it adds depth to your photos.

    • Thanks! I actually live in Slovakia now, so I’m back in the four seasons. Don’t miss that heat at all. However, I’m hoping your Canadian freeze isn’t headed our way!

  5. I have been away a few days, travelling to Calgary where it was minus 25 when I landed. There is a feel to snow. Calgary’s snow is dry compared with the Vancouver’s wet snow that lasts for a few days before transitioning to rain.

    This is an excellent post – reminded me of how weather patterns affect our emotional and physical responses. It is a testament that humanity is tied to this earth – that we respond to the subtle (and not so subtle) nuances of our environment. We try to tame the environment, with fire and ice, but I wonder if it really is tamable….

    Happy New Year – looking forward to our adventures in 2014!! 🙂

    • Welcome back and Happy New Year. 🙂 Glad you made it back to a more temperate climate.

      Weather does indeed have an effect on our emotions. People ask me why I’d want to leave a tropical island and move to cold, gray Eastern Europe. The truth is that I constantly felt like crap when I lived in that climate. I’m very sensitive to environmental factors and the heat/humidity/blinding sun/pollution from the nickel smelters just about did me in. Paradise it was not…at least for me.

      • Ah – another thing we have in common. While others (including my dear husband) enjoy the tropical climate, I swelter and wonder why I paid to visit a place where I can hardly breathe. I am the only one who used an umbrella in the sunshine. Over the years, my collection of umbrellas has blossomed! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • They were pretty intimidating, especially when the lightning started. But afterwards there were always rainbows, though my photos of those weren’t nice enough to post here.

  6. I think the best compliment I can give you is… I’ve never spotted a single typo on this whole blog. Despite my embarrassing Slovenia gaff, I am a pretty ruthless editor. Well done, once again.

  7. I love that eye in the clouds in the second photo! I would always rather the icy cold than the sweltering heat, although I may eat my worlds when I arrive to Canada next month!

    • I was going to mention something about the eye in the clouds, but then I decided I’d just see if anyone else notices it. Glad I’m not the only one who sees it.

  8. This was wonderful to read! I can understand dreaming of winter though, every season has its own magic 🙂

    • I’ve heard somewhere that once you’re struck by lightning you have a greater chance of being struck again. I don’t know if it’s true or not. I love thunderstorms, too. You might be able to relate to watching those Michigan summer thunderstorms approach – “tornado weather” that never developed into tornadoes. I used to do that when I was young. What an eerie and magical experience

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