The month of June is doing something unforgivable. It is being cold. I should know by now that the Pacific Northwest is like this. When most people talk about the “Seattle Freeze”, they are referring to the hands-off attitude that newcomers experience when they first move there. But I prefer to use a broader term like the “June Freeze”, when the sixth month, domaine of the Gemini twins (dual personality) and the namesake of jealous, revengeful Juno who carelessly sprays marine clouds over Washington and Oregon, to describe the month of June. She summons cold rain from the north. She sighs impatient wind over us.
I have lived in the PNW for 31 years, but I can’t shake June. In California where I was born, June was solidly summery, bright and tuneful. She burst from school on the last day and ran barefoot across watered lawns to land in warm, crystal clear swimming pools.
I miss her still.
Today I’m inside; it’s mid-June and the high will be 58 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m wearing signature PNW winter garb: fleece vest, long sleeves and socks in my Crocs. June doesn’t even have the decency to bring rain today, soothing us with the patter of drops hitting the sky lights, quenching the garden, or filling the birdbaths so I don’t have to.
June’s tree is the oak. Behind our house in a city park, a stand of Oregon white oaks tower over our fence. It’s not like they’re leering, or leaning, but ever-present and constant, like sentinels. Oak is June’s tree, and therefore it’s Juno’s tree; in some references the tree belongs to Jupiter but I definitely thing the oak pays homage to the goddess. Mid-summer’s day is in June, the longest day of the northern hemisphere, and oak is traditionally burned in sacrificial rites. I say “is” rather than “was” because it’s likely that the Summer Equinox is being observed this way yet today.
Juno is unpredictable while her month is active. She pummels rain, then withdraws it for days. Then, just after we’ve washed the car or watered the garden at great cost, she splashes us spitefully.
She is jealous. She is the maestro of dark magical schemes against the goddesses, mortals, and their offspring of Jupiter’s.
Juno has a checkered past. She turned goddesses into monsters and mountains. She killed their children—if they were Jupiter’s, that is. She cursed them to be unable to close their eyes or to only speak by echoing the words of others.
She wishes that June was not the chosen month for weddings. The first half of June is unlucky. Best to marry after the Ides of June. She doesn’t like mortals to be happy. If we are happy we forget about her. Even our miserable thoughts of hatred for Juno is better than being ignored.
Next Friday my iPhone promises sun and 80’s. That will be the 19th, Juneteenth, the day when the last slaves became aware of emancipation, sandwiched between the unlucky Ides and the eve of the summer solstice, the longest day in the northern hemisphere. It’s good to have something to look forward to.