Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Weather and Us

I'm home for the holidays, which means that I've traveled from a land of rapidly-shifting weather (Denver) to a place where the weather rapidly shifts to terrible (Northern Illinois). Last night, my family and I were going to have a nice dinner at a local Thai restaurant some 8 miles away. A great fog had come upon the land, so we cancelled the excursion.

This morning, I set out from the farm to head into Chicago for a visit with an old roommate and some other friends. The radio barked on and on about visibility being 1/4 mile. I put it at about 200 feet! It was horrifying. The creek that runs through our property was nearly overflowing the bridge. The hour-long trip to the suburban trains was unusually long - I couldn't go much over 50 mph. It was like everything, air and land both, had turned into water.

It got me to thinking about how important "talking about the weather" really is to us. It's a cliche, really, when you think about it. Asking about the weather, making fun of it, praising it, etc., are all vital parts of how we have made, make, and will continue to make conversation.

We make fun of how we "talk about the weather," but are such disparaging remarks simply a cover for not having anything else to talk about, or is it something that we have to do? I'm betting on the latter.

My guess is that if you look back far enough, to the Epic of Gilgamesh or something similarly cuneiform, you'll find somebody gabbing about the weather. It's always available for dialogue. And since it is an unmovable, non-responding thing, it is frightfully easy for us to deride it or compliment it as we see fit; it can't talk back and we can't change it. So we'll continue, on and on, until we either find a way to "fix" the weather or we get our heads on straight and talk about the important things. The weather is an easy target - we need to set our sights higher.

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