Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I've been pondering all the vivid leaves and mildly slumping temperatures most of you are experiencing, maybe with a good bowl of chili in hand and a thin sweater. I am missing fall less than I thought I would--perhaps on purpose, as I regularly bump it from my mind in my attempt to be all here. Yet it is still an interesting phenomenon to live here in the time warp. I am snipping out autumn learning centers for my children--gourds, scarecrows, pumpkins and all that--while our temps, as ever, hang out in the low eighties and my kids wear summer clothes for the ninth month in a row. There's no Halloween, no Thanksgiving, no school supply aisles here. So my efforts are more a cultural reminder to my children, I suppose.

A friend of mine recently posted that there is no Luganda word for snow. And I agree with her take on it: Why would there need to be? Then, driving home today and talking with my kids about how few Ugandans have the capability to travel outside the country, I put two and two together: Most of my local friends have likely never seen temperatures below, say, sixty degrees, or maybe above 95. As one who grew up in Illinois, or saw a windchill in Michigan of -40 once, this intrigues me. These friends have, of course, never glimpsed autumn foliage, either. And once when I was reading J. a book about snow, a guard overheard me and posed question after question regarding what it was like. Snow forts? Snow angels? Snowballs? Snowmen? Really? (The craziness in icy traffic, strangely, didn't seem that much of a stretch for the ol' Kampalan imagination.)

There is a theory, I have been told, regarding poverty around the equatorial regions of the world, and how weather changes the fabric of a nation--literally and figuratively, I imagine!--affecting even its work ethic. I have seen a lot of hardworking Ugandans, so I don't know what I think about the theory. I have seen the tough women I have met in the Midwest, and the mildly slower, relational pace of the South. There's definitely something that connects the geography of a place to its culture, as I've glimpsed in Colorado, or wherever I've lived.

I personally deeply enjoy how beauty and flowers and color and warmth surround me here wherever I go. I love that local fruit and vegetables are always in season, that our produce is grown within a pretty small radius all year long and constantly has a yummy variety. It has yet to leave me wondering what to do with, say, an bumper crop of acorn squash (which I came to know more affectionately through maybe eight different recipes which my children would politely push to the sides of their plates). I love the climate and landscape of Uganda. As one of our guests mentioned, "You guys live in the Garden of Eden!"

When Oliver is walking around the house, shivering and muttering about the cold when the weather hits 65, my eyebrows do raise a little, and I start smirking in her direction. She bumps my shoulder in mocking, defiant protest. Doug E. Doug's bewildered, indignant line from the Disney movie Cool Runnings usually comes to mind--you know, the part where the Jamaican bobsled team steps out in the Calgary winter: "We are a tropical people!" She and I usually have a good laugh as I throw a cardigan around her shoulders. I think of Michigan, or the biting winds that roll across a wintry Iowa plain. Maybe you should stick around here for awhile longer, babe.

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