Embracing May Gray and June Gloom…or maybe just accepting it

Los Angeles averages 329 days of sun per year. It’s actually quite warm and sunny most of the winter. Then sometime mid-May we shift into May Gray leading to June Gloom,  a weather phenomenon that appears this time of year in Southern California, as cyclical as spring and summer.

Most years after about two weeks of little or no sunshine I lapse into feeling like I need to hibernate. We are sunshine people and I don’t do well without consistent exposure. This is an embarrassingly hard thing to admit when I know how many of my blogging friends live for months with extremes of cold and damp, without even a spot of sun until mid-spring.

I’m not alone in my physical reaction, however.

With great interest I’ve read numerous studies linking sunshine to mood. Natural sunlight provides essential vitamin D and can protect a person from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Sunlight boosts key mood boosting hormones and wards off some forms of depression.

May and June are typically the cloudiest months of the year in coastal Southern California. The clouds are formed when the  marine layer moves in late at night and the resulting damp and gloomy pattern hangs around until late afternoon, when finally the setting sun makes a brief appearance below the clouds and there may be a couple of hours of “happy” sunshine.

A fun and informative blog post on this natural phenomenon can be read HERE, but basically all that’s required is cold Pacific Ocean water, an ocean current known as the California current and a high pressure formation.

There are some benefits to this moisture-laden foggy weather, however. In a mega-drought cycle it is a wonderful reminder that Mother Nature knows how to make an appearance and send a little relief. We aren’t using much outside water right now. Conservation isn’t nearly the challenge it will be in a couple of months.

May and June are somewhat unique, but in July and August the fog associated with the beach areas following hot summer days can also roll in and cool further inland.


The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles is in the Brentwood neighborhood.  On a clear day you can see the Pacific Ocean, but it isn’t “at the beach” in the same sense as the Getty Malibu campus. These  photos were taken last August as friends and I visited on an afternoon and stayed into the evening.

Temperatures at my house, less than 25 miles away, had been in the 100s that day. As we strolled around the campus the fog rolled in and the temperature dropped enough that we were cold…and a little wet.





Mother Nature knows how to cool us off and is doing her best to assist the parched environment.  So I’m doing my best to embrace the benefits of May Gray and may even be looking forward to June Gloom.

We have Hollywood Bowl tickets tomorrow night seeing Neil Diamond in concert for the first time–it’s our first time, not Neil’s. I won’t know until tomorrow if I need to plan for wet weather. No umbrellas are allowed inside the Bowl so this could be exciting.

It is a three-day weekend as we commemorate Memorial Day. Monday will be a quiet day at home, I’m anticipating, and maybe I can get caught up with some of you. I’ve not been spending much time blogging recently.

I have been very busy during the day, yes, but you see, May Gray HAS been making me want to hibernate, and my evenings have been very short! Maybe I need a sun lamp? (If you’ve just endured a long, freezing winter you have my permission to roll your eyes.)

Whatever Mother Nature delivers to your door step this weekend, I hope you have a very enjoyable one. I’ll look forward to hearing about it.

48 thoughts on “Embracing May Gray and June Gloom…or maybe just accepting it

  1. Eyes rolling Debra ~ our weather in the UK is almost the exact opposite to yours!! I recommend you wear layers tonight, topped off with a sturdy waterproof jacket with a hood. Enjoy!! 🙂 ❤

    • And I accept the eye roll, Jacqueline! I have to laugh even at myself. We had an enjoyable concert and I was warm enough, but the sun didn’t come out yesterday until 6 pm. I guess I should be glad we had some sunshine at all, huh? 🙂

  2. I hail from Eugene, Oregon, so these months of some gray are my favorite of the year. That being said, it was the gray that drove me from my home state … months straight with barely a ray of sun were repressive, depressing. And yet, a little gray does take me home.

    • Deborah, I have always wondered how I would do if I lived in Oregon or Washington! Could I talk myself out of letting the lack of sunshine affect my moods too severely? I think in terms of lifestyle I could be very happy in beautiful Oregon, but I have known many people who have left California and then simply had to return over this one key element! I’m really glad that you’re experiencing some pleasant feelings and an emotional connection to “home” during this strange little season of May Gray…we’ll see what June delivers. 🙂

    • I think you probably understand my feelings about the sun as well as anyone could, Nancy! I think we grow so accustomed to having consistent levels of sunshine and when it disappears for a lengthy period of time it really plays havoc with my overall wee-being. I try not to be too much of a whiner about it, though. LOL! (I try.) Thank you again for the info on World Turtle Day! I really enjoyed reading it…and I think Darwin had a good day, too. 🙂

      • One reason we moved to Florida (‘the Sunshine State”) is because the cold gray dreary days in the Mid-Atlantic were wreaking havoc on my internal sunshine levels! 😎

  3. I’ve seen Neil several times. He does a great show! As for the grayness, often in the cold of the winter we get blindingly sunny days. It’s helps a little (at least to keep the suicide rate down). We’ve had another cool week here but next week is supposed to be a whopper with temps in the 90s and high humidity. As usual, we go from winter to summer without spring making much of a show. Spring has been in the islands the past several months and refuses to come home. Enjoy the concert and I hope it doesn’t rain for you.

    • We did enjoy the concert, Kate. I can’t think of too many artists still performing with nearly the same extensive catalog of popular songs. He’s had a wonderful career and I’m glad I finally got to see him perform. And it sounds to me like you need to hold onto your hat if you’re going into such high heat and humidity levels this coming week. I admit it really surprises me to hear of such huge swings still so early in the season! There’s a lot of unpredictability and at the same time these swings follow patterns, don’t they! I hope you have a great week…whatever the sun decides to do. 🙂

  4. SAD is a very real thing! I’ve taken to adding a Vitamin D supplement to my regime, just to counter some of the negative effects of grey, gloomy days that stretch on too long.

    Enjoy Neil! Sounds like a super fun night!

    • I bought a book one year covering the topic of SAD because I was just so amazed that my mood had so severely altered after little sunshine over a couple of weeks. I never thought of taking Vitamin D or this very purpose. That seems like a very good idea! And yes, Neil was just brilliant last night. What a wonderful musician. The Bowl was filled with big fans which also made the evening even more festive. 🙂 Have a wonderful week, Nancy!

  5. I do understand, Debra. We had such a string of gloomy, grey days here this winter I started to wonder what was wrong with me. I really had a spot of the blues, then realized NO SUN. Even in winter, the sun makes a world of difference. I am a member advisory group at the Arb. At a recent workshop the term “nature deficit disorder” came up. Similar to seasonal, it has to do with individuals, especially young ones, who don’t spend enough time in nature do to technology.

    Enjoy the concert. We saw Neil Diamond years ago. In fact, I think we were still dating, so, more than 42. He was phenomenal – and I understand he still is. You will be up out of your seat, singing along. Start practicing – bumbumbum, sweet Caroline. 🙂

    • We did enjoy our concert, Penny, and I thought Neil was delightfully well-humored about his age–referencing that he had grandchildren in the audience–and at the same time showing some wonderful photos and a little video from his earliest days. I’d almost forgotten how handsome he was in those very early years. He played a great many of his crowd pleasing and familiar songs, yet he couldn’t possibly have covered them all. It was a nice evening with a lot of people who clearly were big fans.

      I understand you unexpected case of the blues! I am very aware that my energy levels are tied to the number of hours of sunshine, and it’s so funny to see how every year it sneaks up on me. Last night at the concert the sun didn’t come out until 6 PM! It’s a very interesting weather pattern, but I’m being quite sincere when i say that I’m determined not to let it get to me this year. I’m really grateful that we aren’t needing to use much water right now, to assist in conservation of water and I’m not required to work quite as hard in the garden. Everything feels a little slower.

      Your reference to “nature deficit disorder”is really a sad thought to me. I’ve never heard that term before, but I would assume we’ll be hearing it mentioned in the future. So many different components in life contribute to our overall well-being, and time spent outdoors appreciating the natural world is very high on my list, as I know it is yours. I am sure we’ll have some sunshine soon and I’ll be able to get up off of the sofa and get outdoors again. LOL! Have a great week, Penny, of course, and soak up some sunshine. ox

    • Oh but you DO understand, Robert! LOL! May and June may be a little cooler than I typically enjoy, but I am sure that my garden is really enjoying it, so I will purposefully appreciate the benefits that we’re enjoy now…it will be plenty hot in just a few weeks. I hope you have had a good weekend, too, Robert. 🙂

  6. Hope your concert was good… did you need a rainhat? 😉 I used a Daylight Lamp this winter – you need to sit right up close to it for about an hour a day, so it accompanied my morning breakfast and coffee breaks. I think it helped, but our winter was not as grey as some this time round. It supposedly triggers ‘happy’ hormones in the brain via the retina. Enjoy the holiday weekend Debra, even if the sun doesn’t shine!

    • We did enjoy our concert, Cathy, and the sun came out just as we were walking into the Bowl…6:00 PM! LOL! But it was great. I am so glad you told me about using the Daylight Lamp. It helps me to understand that the long winters are indeed difficult in maintaining well-being. It seems to me that you really created an excellent system to help you cope! We didn’t have any sun at all today, but I spent the day with a friend and it was wonderful anyway. 🙂 I hope you have a great week, Cathy. ox

  7. We have been visiting Santa Monica in June for the last 5 years. The first time we arrived, all we heard was “it’s the June gloom”, but really it’s not that bad. The fog hangs around for a little while and then it dissipates and it’s wonderful weather all day long. We usually arrive on the 3rd week of June and stay for 2 weeks. It’s absolutely lovely, and if we won a huge lottery, we would live there a few months a year. We’re gearing up for our annual June visit to Santa Monica and I can’t wait to get there and spend sometime at the ocean. By the way, we have visited both the Getty Museum and the Villa and found them to be both gorgeous.

    • I’m so glad you’ve had wonderful experiencing in fabulous Santa Monica. What a wonderful place to vacation. I think sometimes that when I’m at the beach and we have these foggy days I expect them and do better. But I’d also say that I have never had a bad day at the beach. We vacation most years at Newport Beach which is our favorite Southern California stretch of beach and I say the same thing you did–“when we win the lottery…” LOL! I’m glad you are familiar with the Getty Museums and I hope that when you come again this June you might find time to see some of the current exhibits. Thank you so much for sharing, Betty, and I hope you might stop by again some time. Enjoy your June vacation in Santa Monica!

      • We’re counting down the days to our Santa Monica vacation and will certainly take your suggestion and visit the Getty Museum(s) again. We’ve also been to Newport Beach and really liked it. Again, when we win that darn lottery, we’ll be jetting off to Southern California.
        In the meantime, I’ll continue to visit your site and vicariously enjoy your activities in that lovely part of the world.


  8. I can relate to this feeling every winter Debra! I don’t mind cold, but lengthy stretches of gray are, well, just ugh. I call it blanket gray. It’s a gray that just consumes the entire sky (and if there’s snow on the ground the ground too!). So happy it’s spring and moving into summer now. I’m soaking up every minute of sun I can! I have no doubt you’ll find some beauty during the May gray and June gloom. I actually thought of you the other day. I remembered your post about finding beauty out on your walks at lunch and it motivated me to do the same. I walked out to a park and took pictures of the flowers in bloom and the city in it’s spring glory. Made my day!

    • Kristy, How sweet of you to tell me that you thought of me in taking a walk and finding photos to commemorate what you found delightful. That makes my day. 🙂 I am definitely not a “fan” of the weather this time of year, but there’s no way I can really complain–oh who am I kidding! I do complain, and all the while know I’m being ridiculous. lOL! I do hope you will soak up as much sunshine as possible while you have it, my friend. And keep finding those lunchtime walks enjoyable. ox

  9. Of course I want rain, but I’ll take the grey over heat any day. I had a coworker from Liverpool who thought our aversion to direct sunlight…by way of constant sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses… was a funny contrast to his hometown where sunlamps are necessary for both S.A.D. and vitamin D production. “You hide from it, we have to buy it!”

    • I love what you’ve shared about your coworker’s observation about our allegiance to sun protection. I never thought about how odd it probably does seem, when we are at one sun worshippers and then we slather on SPF 50. LOL! I do seem to need sunshine to maintain my typical energy levels, but I have decided it isn’t the worst thing in the world to slow down. I would love rain but although I have never really liked the gray/gloom without rain, I truly am appreciative of it right now. It is nice to see the garden rest and stop struggling for a month or so. So nice to hear from you, Janine. I’ll bet that adorable granddaughter is getting big. 🙂

  10. We’re exactly the same here in Sydney – sunshine people and we turn really sour and grumpy if there’s more than a couple of days in a row of grey skies. Like you, I do feel bad whinging about it when there are people in the UK who have grey skies all year round! I have never seen Neil Diamond in concert but I sure would love to. I love his music and it really takes me back to my childhood xx

    • I know what you mean about complaining, Charlie. I think of that sometimes when I comment on our weather, or even the drought. How bad can it be? LOL! But I do find weather patterns fascinating when they are tied to more global shifts in ocean temps or air currents that get stalled. I might have enjoyed being an meteorologist if I had any aptitude in the science. LOL!

  11. I am spoiled as well! We’ve had all kinds of sunshine and today, May Gray day it is and I couldn’t be more down about it! I don’t have SAD at all, but my gosh how this weather can make one feel down and wish to hibernate. I was just considering taking a nap:D

    • I know that I’m very spoiled, Barb. I just have to admit I’m soft when it comes to weather conditions. There are many reasons why California living has drawbacks–too many people for just one thing! 🙂 But everyone stays because of the sunshine and easy climate I think. And then here I go and complain because we have a little May Gray! LOL! I should just take advantage of the change and give in to those naps. LOL!

  12. The weather seems to be completely in a havoc. Here in Bergen, Norway we have already set three records this winters. It’s been the most rainy winter since the recording started. It’s been the most rainy first five months of the year – and it’s been the most rainy Mai ever. I would like to see the sun soon! 🙂

    • You are certainly correct when you say the weather patterns appear to be in havoc, Otto. The current flooding in Texas is alarming to me because this follows a multi-year drought cycle like California is experiencing, and I understand there was flooding in Australia, also following a drought. Then you describe record-breaking rain as well. I know we are all more resilient than our weather, certainly, but I do wonder at times what these extremes indicate for the future if climate change continues to accelerate. I do hope you get some sunshine soon, my friend! I can understand that need. 🙂

    • It seems like so many states are experiencing weather extremes. I have decided I need to be very careful about how much complaining I do about our current drought! The flooding in Texas is terrifying! Now if someone could come along with the brilliance to figure out how to take a wet climate like you’re experiencing and transport it to states in need of a good soaking we’d really have something, wouldn’t we? Thanks so much for stopping by Susie! So nice to hear from you. 🙂

    • I do seem to find climate patterns really intriguing, Jo. I do pay attention to the subtle changes here in Southern California and perhaps they’re a bit more remarkable to me because the shifts are just that-very subtle. May and June are distinguished by the way the sun finally peeks through the clouds in the late afternoon or early evening. Sometime I’d like to know where you visited in California. There are very big differences between Southern and Northern California. 🙂

  13. It’s always nice to see the good old Currant Bun but I quite enjoy rainy days too – each brings their own photo opportunities. Sea fog – which we don’t get in London – is a fascinating phenomenon and much loved by horror film makers. It’s amazing what crawls out of the sea when the fog rolls in 😉 I guess the message is ‘look for the positives and you won’t be SAD! 🙂

  14. Debra, I was actually thinking about June gloom the other day! It’s been raining with plenty of thunderstorms the last couple of weeks and I’ve been missing my California sunshine! Sending lots of rain and love 😉

  15. I actually enjoy May Gray and June Gloom Debra, I prefer the “colder” climate along the Ocean than the further inland temperatures. I know that this cycle has a fw more years then it’s adios to May Gray & June Gloom so I will enjoy it for now. I hope you enjoyed the concert!

    • I did enjoy the concert, Cristina! Thank you. You have the right attitude towards the foggy May-June days, and I should probably be more appreciative myself. I am in an office most of the day and the weather isn’t much of a factor, so I can’t complain too much. I do love it when the sun finally breaks through around dinner time! LOL!

  16. Pingback: June Gloom: 50 Shades of L.A. Gray - Barb Best

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