When living here, in a southern European, good clima weather, it is nearly ridiculously easy to reflect and laugh about how weather, and particularly good weather is relative.
Summer here is defined by dates, so it starts June 21, lasts for three months and then ends September 21. As easy as that. And before June 21, the Portuguese do not sit outside unless they have to, they do not wear flip flops or shorts and they most certainly do not go to the pool. After September 21 it is the same. No matter if it is thirty degrees in the middle of the day.
Being from northern Europe means you do not act that way. At all. It means you use every ray of sun that is ever available, no matter when in the year it appears. It means that outdoor servings in the northern hemisphere are very common and used around the year, and that they have blankets on each chair and heaters ready to be turned on. And it most certainly means that you use the pool, if there is one available when you are abroad, no matter what the date is, just as long as the temperature is decent enough. And this is why, on a touristic site lite this, you can see one person looking all cool in a down jacket, woolen cap and sun glasses, on the same street as a magnificently happy person in flip flops and summer dress. It’s one of those wonderful contradictions of life, and one that makes it evident who belongs to which culture.
So, the period called summer here is more a definition on what to wear than anything else, it is not like it means you defy being outdoors just because it’s not summer anymore. Outdoor activities are in fact an integrated part of the school schedule in Portugal, all year round. So the expectation really is for the weather to be good and allowing. Which is confirmed by what happens when the weather is not good – you stay inside. No keeping rain coats and boots at school to allow for the outdoor activity anyway, as you do in Sweden, no, you simply don’t go out. Bad weather is an anomaly and is treated as such by adapting to it. In Sweden bad weather is defied, you go against war towards it and do not succumb to it. So, really, the expectation is for the weather to be bad and as such as being something to be handled.
In honesty, if you buy in on the Portuguese system it is very straightforward and easy to adjust to. Dress according to the calendar and you will fit in with people around you and in summer you are always ready to enjoy the hot weather, while before and after the summer dates you are never too cold. Sure, you are not using every single ray of sun to get sun tanned, but really, who needs to? It seems it really is an obsession only with us northerners. Southerners, on the contrary, stay out of the sun.
So weather is relative to expectations and expectations are relative to experience. And the funny thing about that conclusion is that common shared experiences is what in the core builds culture. So it is in a way the theoretical proof that weather is not just a meteorological phenomena but actually a culture bearer.
Which means that what we individually think is good weather versus what is bad weather is a sign of which culture we belong to. And whether we are falling out of our old culture and into our new.