Thursday, February 19, 2015

Weather or Not

Remember that old kids' rhyme, "Whether it's cold or whether it's hot, we will have weather, whether or not"? It was one of my first encounters with wordplay, and I've always remembered it.

I love weather's unpredictability and delight in the largely futile attempts of weather forecasters to get it right. Whenever they predict heavy rain...which I love...I know I can pretty well leave my umbrella at home. I often wonder why they bother.

Living as I did so long in northern Wisconsin, in the heart of Lake Superior's snow belt, I delighted in the heavy snow most winters would bring. I didn't particularly like digging out my car--especially when, as happened not all that infrequently, the snow would be even with the top of the hood--but to sit inside and watch it fall...or, with blizzard conditions, listening to the wind shake the house while whipping the snow horizontally past the windows...was always a delight.

But I do not like excessive cold. One winter, when I was living up north, we had one entire week when the temperature never got above -26! By comparison, Chicago weather, and particularly the winters, are normally fairly tame. The city comes to a standstill on those very rare occasions when we get more than six inches of snow. Bunch o' wusses! But this winter seems to be something of an exception. Perhaps because I’m getting older. Perhaps because I’m just getting tired of the cold.

In Spring, Summer, and Fall, I enjoy looking out the window in the morning to see the clouds from the previous night's storms  breaking up and patches of blue sky appearing. I love waking to rain, wind, and a world saturated in deep, pensive grey. When I first returned to Chicago and was staying with my now-dead but still dear friend Norm in his 35th floor condo, I would be mesmerized whenever fog or low clouds would totally wrap around the building and obscure the view of the towers of the Loop in the distance. 

Perhaps because I am so given to melodrama, I have always loved thunderstorms; the more violent the better. I've told the story many times of scaring the bejeesus out of my poor mother when I was a teenager. I'd gotten out of bed during a severe storm in the middle of the night to stand at my bedroom window to watch it. I stood between the drapes and the partially open window, and my mom came in to close the window she didn't see me standing there until she pushed the drapes aside. 

For some reason, we generally are incapable of remembering weather from one year to the next. People always seem to claim the current year's weather to be the most severe—the hottest, the coldest, the driest, the wettest—in memory, though it almost never is.

I've often said that one of the main reasons I left Los Angeles after eighteen years was because I grew tired of every day being June 25th, and of being able to confidently plan a picnic six weeks in advance. Even when it did rain, Mother Nature didn't really seem to put her heart into it. Far more drizzle than drama.
I always delight in days other people consider gloomy or unpleasant. I find them restful and soothing. They're like putting on a thick down jacket on a cold day, completely enveloping and isolating me from the cares of the world. I put them on a par with the serenity of walking through a cemetery reading tombstones. (No, I am not weird, thank you. A bit strange, perhaps, but….)

So if I have my choice of not-sunny, not-stormy days, I think I’d choose grey, overcast days with slow, steady or intermittent rain. Somber days are conducive to contemplation, reflection, and thought (synonyms, I know, but each with it's own subtle differences), and weather and life have strong parallels. I suspect the proportions of sunny to stormy to grey of weather are about the same as happiness, sorrow, trauma, and joy are to human life. Perhaps to emphasize this parallel that I often paraphrase the old saying "into each life a little rain must fall" to "into each rain a little life must fall." Works for me.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (


Kage Alan said...

Thunderstorms always terrified me as a child, quite possibly because I tended to overdose on horror movies. It wasn't college that I started to love them. I was on the second floor of the dorm building and the lounge for the third floor was directly above me, so their balcony was above my window. This meant my roommate and I could leave our window open during the worst rainstorms.

And these days? I don't mind overcast. Those make perfect days to write. Plus, if I want brighter colors, I need only look around me in the house, otherwise I can sit in the office, stare out the window, and get lost in the beautiful gloom outside.

Helena said...

I love extreme weather of any type, but given that I live in the UK I'm protected from any really serious weather! I really don't like grey days, though -- I don't mind what it does as long as there is sunshine at some point.