If I ever started a band, I might name it “Room Temperature Butter”. But that has nothing to do with this blog. I’ll get to the butter in a minute.
Since moving to Costa Rica I have noticed how much the weather was a part of our lives in Minnesota, or more specifically, how the weather is always the same here. In Minnesota, I had a thermometer conveniently placed right outside my kitchen window. I had another in my car. I watched the news every night to see what the temperature would be the next day. If I missed the evening news, I would check the weather channel’s website. And I knew where every bank with a digital clock/thermometer sign was on my side of town. Knowing the weather in Minnesota was an important daily ritual because on any given day the temperature can vary as much at 40* within a matter of hours!
The weather is also an important topic of conversation in Minnesota. Nobody really cares, but we use it as a filler topic. Minnesotans don’t like to have heavy conversations and we don’t like awkward pauses. We all carry about mental flash cards with small talk themes that we can impliment to ward off an uncomfortable conversational lull. Deep conversations are like dessert for the one or two friends that make it past the 20 year mark, but everyone else nibbles on appetizer conversations. “How’s the weather up in Alex?” is right up there with “How ’bout those Twins!” If we happen to be having unusual weather for a particular season, this can easily consume months and months of conversation rations. Minnesotans will talk about a hard winter for the next 25 years! As a matter of fact, I still remember the snow drifts in 1983.
The dramatic changes in weather are also signals to change out the wardrobe. One of my favorite seasonal chores in Minnesota is rotating the seasonal clothing. I love getting out the boxes of clothes for the next season and feeling like I’m getting a whole new wardrobe! I love that. In Costa Rica we only change out our accessories. When the rainy season starts we get out the umbrellas, rain boots, jackets and light boxes. (That’s to avoid the depression brought on by 40 straight days of rain, I don’t know how Noah managed.) When the dry season arrives, we use more sun screen. And that’s about it.
Finally, the weather clearly defines the changing of the seasons in Minnesota. It is one of the real beauties of our State. Each season has its awe-inspiring moments that make you wonder if you could ever be truly happy without all 4 seasons. Even if you don’t particularly care for one season, change will occur in a few months and you’ll feel it’s all worthwhile. It’s worth it just to experience the joy of spotting the first green sprouts peeking up from the winter sleepy garden, or admiring the breath-taking fall colored leaves that radiate with an internal brilliance, or spying the first snow flake or the season with a child-like thrill. It’s worth it.
But here in Costa Rica our seasonal changes are less dramatic. We basically have two seasons: Rainy (April-Nov.) and Dry (Dec.-March). We have our weather jokes like most places do. We say we have two seasons, wet and wetter. It’s the equivalent of Minnesota having winter and road construction. We have certain flowers that bloom during various times of the year (I don’t know what allergen blooms in the “spring” but it’s sheer torture for me.). We have certain fruits that come into season once a year (mango season is my favorite- just before Easter).
Our year is also broken up by religious holidays. Semana Santa (Holy Week or Easter Week) is a time when all the hotels on the coasts are booked solid. The church puts on pageants and parades, it’s quite the sight! Schools have their long summer break over Christmas time from December to mid-February. So many people plan vacations during that time as well. If you stay in the city, there are festivals and parades and bull fights and tamales and fireworks to mark the season. We even have our own version of the Holidazzle Parade minus the -40*F wind chills. Each holiday has its special ingredients that make up the flavors of Costa Rica. (This is a video clip of the bull fights that we watch on TV all December long it’s hilarious!!)
Our temperatures are pretty stable in the 70s and 80s all year round. What changes is the level of humidity. In Rainy season it feels like I’m breathing through a wet blanket wrapped around my head. In Dry Season I enjoying the refreshing tropical breezes of the Christmas Winds. My family back home balks when I complain about being cold when it’s 50*F here. They forget that when it’s 50*F back in Minnesota, it feels good… outside of the house. No one thinks it feels good inside the house. Inside we have heat, fireplaces, carpeting, insulated windows, and blankets to keep the crisp air outside. Here in Costa Rica, I judge the climate by the state of my room temperature butter. When the butter is rock solid… it’s cold. Butter doesn’t lie, People! Unfortunately when it’s cold here, we don’t have heat in the house, carpets, windows that close all the way, or warm clothes. It’s all relative, I guess.
So all of this is why compared to how Minnesotans talk about the weather in literally every conversation, Costa Ricans almost never talk about the weather. It’s just not a topic of conversation around here. It’s the same every day, so why talk about it? It’s just not an issue. It’s the equivalent of asking someone, “how’s your butter doing?”