Friday, August 13, 2010


July 17 • Dye on Cloth • 10" x 8" • ©2010 Jennifer Libby Fay

I come from a family that begins most conversations and all correspondence with a weather report.

Dear Mom,
It has been very hot here in Fayetteville. The temperatures have exceeded 90 degrees everyday for more than a month. Yesterday, when I went to get my hair done and buy a birthday present for Alistair, the thermometer in the car said it was 106.

Like that. For a long time I thought it was a silly waste of time, who cares about the weather in a place you aren't?

My grandfather died just last year. He was 104. For the last 15 or so years of his life, after my grandmother died, we wrote each other letters. Mostly about the weather. I have come to love reading the record of the most basic truth of our days. It's soothing and safe. No opinion is necessary and until recently the weather wasn't controversial or divisive. It just was.

I admit that back in the first part of July I complained vigorously about the weather being SO hot. For awhile I couldn't think of anything else. Every. Single. Day. It. Was. Hot. I didn't know how to cope and I was miserable. Being from Northern California, I'm just not used to it. In San Francisco, if the temperature reaches 80 degrees, people take off four of their five layers and have a party in the streets.

July 18 • Dye on Cloth • 10" x 8" • ©2010 Jennifer Libby Fay

But making art can transform misery into, at the very least, acceptance, and so these two pieces, July 17 and July 18, were made from the heat of those days. Now I find there is beauty in the heat, and also power, something I had not realized before. It requires strength to be outside for any period of time and a commitment to taking care of oneself. Drink lots of water, wear sun screen. There's no fooling around.

I am feeling better now and complaining less. But really, I think the man who invented air conditioning should be given a sainthood.