The Spring weather is as mad as a March Hare! We’ve had summery sun one day and winter chill the next, so this changeable season is ideal for sensing how the weather influences our sense of self.
I was walking to the station during an icy phase and became aware of an uncomfortably resigned mood. I’d had a long day at work and it felt like my projects were all on hold; it was a time to sit tight and wait for things to change. Then I noticed that I was walking with hunched shoulders and a slightly bowed head, using small careful steps across the icy pavement.
Our language makes it hard to discuss my experience; I want to resist talking about how ‘my body’ was or suggest that the cold icy weather ‘made me’ feel that way. Yet how I held myself and how I moved – so careful on the slippery ice! – in short, my embodiment, emerged in response to the conditions of time and place. Body, mind and place were woven into one, as they almost always are.
It’s taken science a while to explore the subject, but what research there is confirms what most of us experience – weather affects our moods (Keller et al., 2004).
D.H. Lawrence takes us much further in his evocative short story, Sun. He describes the transformation of Juliet, a mother trapped in a stagnant marriage with no capacity “to feel anything real”. Her doctor recommends a stay in the sun, so she leaves for Sicily. She sunbathes naked everyday, opening to the power of the sun.
By some mysterious power inside her, deeper than her known consciousness and will, she was put into connection with the sun, and the stream flowed of itself, from her womb. She herself, her conscious self, was secondary, a secondary person, almost an onlooker. The true Juliet was this dark flow from the her deep body to the sun.
Juliet’s sunbathing is as far from my icy walk as Sicily is from London, but the theme remains; we both experienced the power of place.