Mother Nature Takes Labor Day Much Too Seriously

And just like that, summer is over.

I know that Labor Day is hailed as the unofficial end of summer, but Chengdu’s Mother Nature took that idea much too seriously. (Not to mention the fact that Labor Day is an American holiday that shouldn’t mean diddly-squat to Chinese Mother Nature!) A week ago, it was 90 degrees and humid, basically making us all feel like toasted cheesers. To escape the heat, we headed to QingCheng Shan to float the river and try to cool off in the mountains (click here for the tale of that crazy adventure!), thinking we had at least a month of hot weather to endure before fall arrived in western China.

How wrong we were!

Labor Day weekend rolled around, and like many of our friends and family back home, a BBQ was on the docket. The only problem is, it rained all weekend long, and with the rain came much cooler temperatures.  Starting Saturday afternoon and continuing through Sunday and into Monday morning, there was near constant moisture coming from the sky. Granted, at times it was a mere drizzle, but the rain was steady enough to keep everything moist, including my picnic tables and grill.

With an RSVP list sixty names long, this was no time for weather woes! Yes, moving inside is always an option, but not a great one, as the consulate doesn’t have a large enough indoor space to accommodate that size of informal gathering. Considering the number of kids in our community, the only good indoors area would have been crawling with little ones, like a toddler invasion sprung from the woodwork. Luckily, by Monday afternoon, the rain had stopped. (The sky had not cleared, but at least there was no water falling. We haven’t actually seen the sun in a week.) With hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill and a potluck spread of everything from spring rolls and macaroni salad to chocolate frosted brownies and fruit-covered cake, the evening ended up being a success, although I did keep an eye on the sky all night long.

Now, we’ve had rain off and on all summer long, but this last weekend’s rain definitely screams, “Fall!” rather than the hot rainy days of July and August that are all summer. Within a week, we dropped from daily highs in the mid-90s to peaking in the mid-60s. After a summer season of skirts and dresses, I think tomorrow morning it may be time for me to dig to the back of my closet and find the long pants that have been collecting dust and wrinkles.  I haven’t worn pants to work since May, but the lovely streak of brightly colored skirts and short sleeve blouses it quickly coming to an end. (Luckily, next year when we move to Kuala Lumpur, it will be summer year-round!)

Maybe Chinese seasons are just more regimented than the willy-nilly season changes in the US. Much like the Chinese government (at least in Gansu) decrees that winter cold starts on November 15, thus turning on radiator heat to schools and apartments, Labor Day arrived towing fall weather along with it.

Goodbye summer heat and humidity. Hello fall precipitation and puddles.

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