Yes, But Is It Cloudy?

I’ve experienced Lisbon mainly above 30 degrees Celsius, and yet, the temperature I perceived changed all the time.

36 degrees with the sun in full view, zero clouds in the sky? That’s brutal. Siesta time. 36 degrees after the sun has set, with a light breeze as you walk along the sea? That’s lovely.

The most surprising, however, was 36 degrees in cloudy conditions. The sun was just as strong, but a layer of reflecting, absorbing white made the heat much more bearable than you’d think. Had I known this before, I’d have planned my activities differently. You never stop learning.

When we know what 36 degrees feels like at home, we tend to think we know what 36 degrees feels like everywhere, but that’s not true. There’s a lesson in there about not overvaluing statistics, but there’s also one about the difference a single variable can make. Slide a sea of clouds between you and the sun, and voilà, a barely traversable city becomes a joy to explore on foot.

The knowledge about the effects of such singular variables must often be painstakingly collected. It is a hard-won sap from the tree of life, and no one else can extract it for you. This knowledge won’t always be useful, but it’s a joy to share it with those for whom it might be.

Keep your mind open and your eyes on the sky. You never know how the weather might change, and you’ll only find out what those changes mean once you see them.