Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Writing the weather

When I was younger, I often thought (in a pretty judgmental way) that grownups who just talked about the weather were avoiding serious conversation about more profound issues. How shallow. How superficial.

Now that I am, technically, grown up, I talk about the weather all the time. I use it to start e-mail messages or to friends who are far away. I refer to it in closing paper letters to friends in other climates. If an advisory is posted, I check the window every few minutes. The weather can be exciting, dramatic, wet (and inconvenient). It can affect where people live, what they have to eat, whether the schools stay open and the lights stay on. It can offer signs of climate change, global warning.

The weather can be fun to watch—except when I'm worried that a tree will fall on the house or my car will be blown off the bridge. It can be deadly. It can change the landscape—as when rivers run in the street (bad) or when snow transforms the landscape and changes everything (beautiful). It can affect how I'm feeling or what I feel like doing. And it offers a wealth of metaphors (the gray skies, the stealing mist, the long drizzle, quick gust, hard frost--and, again, snow that softens, covers, conceals, freezes).

We've had our fill of wild weather this winter, and we're only in the beginning of January. I'm waiting to see if the snow that has been forecast really arrives tonight, if power winds push the cold front through, what the yard will look like tomorrow.

If the season so far is any indication, I get the feeling that there will be plenty to talk about and to write about before we reach the first day of spring.

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