Monday, November 13, 2017

July Weather in December

It's a fine, crisp autumn day as I write this. The sky is clear, azure blue and the recent early morning frost has turned the leaves still on the trees to vivid shades of bronze, red and yellow. The Japanese maple outside my window is working on producing the extraordinary shade of pink it likes to treat us to just before the leaves fall.

The only slight problem is that the book I'm working on is set in July with weather that is really hot, humid and unpleasantly sticky.  It was fine when I started it, in summer, but now I have to keep thinking myself back into what that felt like and since I'm cold enough to have an extra heater on in my study today and even then the tip of my nose feels chilly, this is a constant feat of imagination.

To make things more difficult, that is also the time of year in the north when there is light almost all the way through the night, so I can't have anyone commit their nefarious deeds under cover of darkness, or talk about anyone watching a sunrise or sunset - unless it's between 11pm and 2 am.

Because my books have rural settings, there's another problem too when it comes to the scenery.  I always do research visits to the area I'm writing about, taking copious notes on the scenery to help me in describing it for the reader, but of course it constantly changes.  When, exactly, does the heather start blooming on the hills and when does the bracken  turn from green to brown?  Are the kittiwakes still nesting in July or are there only herring gulls on the cliffs?  How long is the flowering season for pink thrift or harebells?  Which is the prevailing wind at that time of year?  What sort of cloud formations are usual in high summer?  Questions, questions.

At least, in northern and western Scotland you can be quite sure of one thing - if the sun's out, so are the midges.  In fact, you can be pretty sure about insects generally if you're looking for that sort of local colour, so that's a help.

I love writing about the countryside, but there are times when I think it would be very restful to have a city setting and just say it was raining or it wasn't raining, or even that the sun was shining.  Grey buildings in July are still grey buildings come November!


Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Ha ha ha ha ... I do enjoy reading your posts, Aline. I agree, it is challenging to create a fictional setting that is totally at odds with our present surroundings, especially when it comes to something as physical as the weather – when we lived in tropical Papua New Guinea the cold of Scotland was a very distant memory. As for city settings being the same old grey regardless of season? Hm?? I'm not sure i agree. I often think the contrast between summer and winter in a built up landscape is even more marked than in the countryside. In winter, the city greys are starker, streets seem darker, buildings bleaker and people less friendly as they hurry to and for all huddled up. There are, after all, a lot of nuances of grey ;) Good luck with your research!

Aline Templeton said...

Thanks, Marianne. At least fifty 'nuances' of grey, as I understand it!!