June

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.

Author

Share

About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison

Comments

June — 5 Comments

  1. I’ve been told when I complain about the weather here this time of year that it’s pretty typical for “Juneuary.”

  2. 56 sounds heavenly.

    You’ve forgotten (or maybe you enjoyed–my sister does) the unending heat and smog of California, and the fact that while everyone else gets a break from the heat in October, here it’s even hotter, dry as the Santa Anas blow, and the fire season looms. I resent every hot day during our potential two months of “winter” that is also hot and dry, but who can afford to move?

    Though I admit it was a great place to be a kid, when you don’t notice weather. Pretty much barefoot most of the year round, except at school.

  3. The weather critters for the Portland area are promising summer by the solstice next Saturday.

    If you believe that I have ocean front property in Arizona I’ll sell you cheap.

    Around here If you don’t like the weather wait a minute. If you don’t like the forecast, change the channel. But I’m in the volatile mountains not the heat sink of the valley.

  4. Thanks for more chuckles, Jill, even if “bitter” ones. And yes, Juno/Hera was a really vengeful deity! I’m fourth-generation here in the Pacific Northwest, with webbed toes, who goes swimming (briefly) in Cold lakes and ocean in April and May whenever the sun chances to peek out, and STILL I complain about June weather. Welcome to the club!

  5. huh. 58 is me wearing T-shirts and sandals for my walk.

    But here it’s so hot that I’m watering my garden every day and sometimes twice.