Friday, December 21, 2007

Weather or Not

We can always count on the weather. It will be there no matter what else disappears. When people think about weather they think inclement weather but that’s not what I mean. There is good weather and bad...that sounds too stark. There are rainstorms, hurricanes, twisters, dust storms, snow fall, sleet, ice storms, blizzards, fog, blazing sun storms, cool crisp breezes, wind storms, sunny days that make you smile. I’m sure I’m missing something but the point is that we cannot avoid the weather.

Weather can have an enormous impact on the economy and not just because someone might need an umbrella. But there are rain gear, wind gear, snow gear, sports gear for all the weather related activities, hats gloves, shoes, sweats, socks, underwear and on and on. And lest we forget all the equipment and assorted paraphernalia that are weather related.

There is an entire weather culture that starts with a look at a thermometer and progresses to radio listening, radio and television programming. People are serious about the weather. In fact, I remember that sometime in the 80’s one of the networks decided not to include weather reports and there was such a public outcry it was immediately reinstated. I like to know what it’s like outside but I only need about two minutes of any report. And, let’s get real, if you absolutely cannot go through a day without knowing what conditions exist outside, it is possible to open a door or window and find out.

At the beginning of the week I drove up to Plymouth to see the kids. The weather was OK but it had snowed two days before followed by a torrential downpour and the snow froze so there was ice every where, including the tops of cars and trucks. Driving was hazardous because people hadn’t bothered to go that extra step and clean off the “hard to reach/see parts.” It is impossible to describe the feeling one has when you see a big piece of ice simply dangling in the air, having been lifted off a speeding car, waiting to crash. Most of the time it just splits into tiny pieces on the road but often, it hits a car. It happened to us in 1970. We were living in Boston and for whatever reason we were a little bored and decided to drive to Jackson Heights for a pastry. Sometimes we drove to Coney Island for a hot dog—and they weren’t even that good. Yes, we were young and spontaneous and, like most kids in their twenties we felt immune from any harm. Anyway, sometime in the early evening it started to snow and we decided to head back to Boston. By the time we got on the Mass Pike the weather had degraded and the roads were treacherous—but we were penniless so we couldn’t stay in a motel and we didn’t want to pull off to the side of the road. We just wanted to get home.

At some point about ten miles from the entrance to the Pike I looked up and saw this flash of light twirling above the car. And then it started to fall. It fell so fast that we didn’t have time to swerve the car – which was good because we probably would have hit another vehicle – but it fell so fast and so hard that it came right through the middle of the windshield. If it had fallen 5” to either side, one of us would have died. We still didn’t stop because as dangerous as it was to drive in that weather it would have been worse to try to get over to the side of the hiway. We continued to drive without a windshield for at least 40 miles and finally when we reached the toll booth we paid the toll through the windshield not the window – it is best always to maintain a sense of humor in a disaster.

That was the beginning of my distaste for cold weather. I had been in Boston for about ten years and never felt an aversion to the winter but that episode marks the beginning of my bad weather attitude. It also marks the beginning of my inability to ride in a car in any relaxed way at any time during the cold. I always think there is some ice lurking about waiting to come at me again.

Anyway, my former husband said that I hated any weather and was in a bad mood for ten out of twelve months. He was close to right. But ten, out of twelve months in Boston and surrounding New England towns, the weather is horrendous. It is too hot for some and too cold for others. So my move south was predictable and preferable. Except when they predict snow in Virginia and within fifteen minutes there is no water, eggs. or milk to be found in any grocery. Or when the snow removal is a bit too biblical -- the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. But I love the seasons – spring and fall being favorites. It is unimaginable for me to think about living somewhere where there is just summer or just winter. (I guess I could live with just fall and spring, but once you lose the leaves what is there to look at). We have many friends in California and they love it—I love it as well but I just can’t get into celebrating with Santa and palm trees.

Sometimes weather related decisions don’t work out as planned. Because the weather, like political elections, are unpredictable. We took Mom to live in Seattle because they have a mild winter and, of course, this year there have been rainstorms and snow storms and wind storms and cold—so she hasn’t been outside for two months. The only consolation is that it hasn’t been any better at her house in NJ. Last week when I went to check on the house there was so much ice that I literally skated across her front yard, and leapt up the ramp holding tightly to the railing in order to get into the house. So you never know. And I guess there aren’t many options about dealing with something that’s as inevitable as the weather, so I’ll just ready my hat, gloves, galoshes, sweater, jacket, scarf, and flannels, sweatshirt, sunscreen, sunglasses, swim suit, skis and goggles, and hope for the best. We’re just sayin...Iris


Anonymous said...

You know what I always say about the weather, if you don't like it, live on a planet without an atmosphere.

The only solution I learned living on this planet, and upstate New York (grin).

Professor who doesn't teach meteorology or astronomy (and my students thank me for that)

Anonymous said...

Gosh Seth, you've really aged since becoming a father! Maybe its just the hat?

Cute boy though.

Wishing a safe and Happy holidays to all you good folks. Read you in the new year.

Harding out...