|| 7:39 am EDT, May 28, 2013
In Westeros, seasons last not for months but for years, and are not predictable in duration. The climate change aspect of this is obvious to the contemporary audience, but there's something more subtle and subtextual at work here too: another economic metaphor, another kind of difficult climate. Westeros is like our own world, in which hard times have arrived, and no one feels immune from their consequences, and no one knows how long the freeze will last. It's a universe in which nobody is secure, and the climate is getting steadily harder, and no one knows when the good weather will return.
What everyone remembers about that morning: it was a beauty. A beautiful, calm, clear Tasmanian summer morning. A cloudless sky; no wind to speak of. Not too hot, yet. Something else they remember: there were no birds. At least, none they could hear. No birdsong. That was odd. Eerie, even. Like something was holding its breath.
Christopher C. Burt:
The summit of Mt. Washington is also enjoying a pleasant opening to summer with a high of 29° on Saturday accompanied by freezing rain and snow.
On the last night of our course, we firefighter trainees put on our bunker gear and stood in a field as our instructors set real things on fire -- a strange metal tree, a propane tank, a beat-up old Lincoln -- which we then tried to extinguish. The event had been advertised in the local paper, so families came out to watch. There were bleachers, and a taco truck.
As far as I can tell, most of the work of a small-town Texas fire department consists of filling out forms, testing hydrants, giving stickers to second graders, rolling up hoses, putting old pumps on new trucks, and learning how to refill tanks using water from a stock trough. Actual fires are rare, and when they do happen—when something in a dumpster ignites, or when a hay bale catches, or when lightning strikes a patch of freeze-dried grass and someone’s ranch is suddenly burning—putting them out is business, not pleasure.
Which is a shame, because controlled fire is one of the best-ever things for looking at.
When I was about 6 years old, I started collecting model trains with my father. I had books on model trains, and books on actual trains. Both kinds showed pictures of big mountains parted by trains, small towns bisected by trains, and trains adorning white Christmas-scapes.
It is from those books that I built an imagination and acquired my earliest notions of heaven -- a highland where it snows often and when it doesn’t snow, it rains, where summer seems always in retreat. There is a big lake. Behind that lake is a mountain. Between the lake and the mountain, there is a village.
The village exists. Its name is Corseaux. It sits in the Riviera region of Switzerland, sandwiched between Lake Geneva and the Bernese Alps. I was there in April, reeling at how the postcards of my childhood fantasies had materialized into fact. On a clear day, across the still, black water, I could see France demarcated by white, snowy mountains. There was only one clear day.