Captain's Log. Star-date 9 May 2014. A curious phenomenon I believe I commented on in a previous blog: the virtual impossibility of a stranger to these lands to cross the hearth of a native. This phenomenon is corroborated by multiple testimonies. It often takes years for a visitor to the Cling-On region to be welcomed into a household, even for a passing visit. There are of course some rare exceptions. These tend to be (a) single people who live alone or do not have a family; (b) extraordinarily open Cling-Ons who are willing to admit into their homes somebody of foreign extraction who is not fully integrated into the fabric of their society already. If you want to cross the threshold of a home here, there are two ways: one, marry a Cling-On and then you will have "honorary Cling-On" status, and be considered "one of them" at least for practical social purposes; or (b) meet someone who is breaks the mold and opens the doors of their home to "blow-ins." The latter is rare but does happen. In a future blog, I will speculate about why the hearth, the home, is so sacrosanct here, and why it is specifically the family hearth, not the hearth in general, that is so closed off to non-natives.
Captain's Log, stardate May 7th, 2014. Returning from a long hiatus from my logs. Have been trying to "immerse myself" in the Klingon culture rather than make it a constant object of study. Nevertheless, I am willing to return to my logs and sacrifice some of this "full-immersion" experience for the benefit of future generations and for the benefit of the scientific community. I have gathered so much data since my last log that I hardly know where to begin... But let me begin with a phenomenon that I call "coping with an unstable environment."
Let me explain: the city of Cuadrilla is located in a curious sort of "micro-climate," a battle ground of multiple weather fronts that create chaotic and unpredictable weather patterns. The climate swings wildly from 3 degrees celsius in the morning up to 24 celsius in the afternoon, from dry sunny weather in the morning to overcast and rainy in the evening. Weather forecasts tell you "0mm of rain" but you go outside and realize that "0mm" is an infinite understatement. Add to these daily fluctuations the fact that the seasons are extremely unstable. A week of winter can arrive in the middle of spring; a week of summer in the winter; and summer can arrive whenever it feels like it.
Try to imagine what it is like to live in these conditions. Hypothesis: inhabitants of Cuadrilla must develop elaborate coping mechanisms for dealing with this extraordinary environmental instability. This hypothesis has been confirmed repeatedly by my experience interacting with natives of Cuadrilla. These coping mechanisms are partly material and partly psychological. Materially, the average Cuadrillean, especially the elders, carry an umbrella everywhere as if their life depended on it. Typically small, foldable umbrellas. Cuadrillean women wear knee-high boots as if their life depended on it. (arbitrary fashion conventions apparently prevent men from doing so).
Psychologically, Cuadrilleans are permanently braced, it would seem, for miserable, wet, weather, even when the sun is shining brightly and the sky is blue. This state of permanent "preparedness" for terrible weather, one might think, could generate heightened stress and anxiety, but in fact, since it is a PERMANENT preparedness, it actually has a calming effect on the Cuadrillean temperament. By permanently expecting the worst possible weather conditions, the Cuadrillean enjoys a stable and un-disturbable worldview. Anything can happen in his external environment, at least weatherwise, but armed with his pessimistic predictions, the Cuadrillean finds himself in a win-win situation: either rainstorms arrive, in which case his expectations are met and he enjoys the satisfaction of being right; or he gets decent or half-decent weather, in which case the outcome exceeds his expectations and he is a happy camper, though not exultant, since he anticipates this will only last a short time.
I do not wish to labour the point, but let me just recount one paradigmatic example of the resilient Cuadrillean pessimism regarding the weather. I was in a lift with my neighbour, an elderly lady, and to make light conversation I remarked to her that the weather was lovely. Her immediate, instinctive reaction, was to assume a slightly defensive yet also calm-and-collected posture (let's say, a habitual and thus stable defensiveness), and to say, "Sunny, yes, but cold! Cold in the morning, hot in the afternoon. Impossible to dress for this weather! Besides, tomorrow it's going to take a turn for the worst!" How had we managed to move from a beautiful crisp morning to the menace of horrible weather, so effortlessly and in the space of five short seconds? It could only be through an in-grained instinctual reaction, a coping mechanism developed over many generations to deal with an unstable environment. That, at least, is my professional opinion.