How can I describe summer days in Beijing? Smuggy. How can I describe the way that smuggy weather makes you feel? Smuggy. I pulled the above picture off the web, but it's a pretty good depiction of a bad day in Beijing.
Smog is something that we have become more or less accustomed to. If I can see the building next to our apartment I often won't even notice that it is smoggy out (they call it "fog" here, there is no word for smog). I had a friend say to me recently, "I heard that in Canada it doesn't get foggy like this." I confirmed the rumor. Then she asked me to look out the window and asked if I would consider that day's weather to be foggy. The fact that I even had to consider it when the edges of all the buildings were unclear, shows how normal this has become.
However, summer time takes it to a new level. In winter, it is often very dry and there may be a wind blowing. Wind is the key to relieving smog. It simply blows the smog away to another place and voila, you have semi blue skies. Rain sometimes works, but it is less reliable than wind. By contrast to winter, summer time is humid and all of the moisture in the air can trap the smog over the city for days on end.
We are all familiar with muggy days where it is grey outside but very humid and very hot. However it becomes far worse when you feel like the sky ends just above your head and then closes thickly and motionlessly around your sweaty body in 35C weather. It has the capacity to make you feel really, really gross and affect your mood. Last week was one where every day was smuggy and where the whole family was moody and headachy. It wasn't really an option to go outside because of the air, but the boys had their usual amount of energy. Today was moderately bad, but then the wind came! Hurray!
The sad truth is that if you are going to live in Beijing, this is the price that must be paid. I comfort myself with the thought that some people have lived with it for their entire lives while I must only withstand a mere three years. If I want to enjoy my time here then I can't spend hours feeling bothered by this. Nonetheless... there are just some really bad days (daze).
I think that my reunion with fresh air will be a truly amazing experience!