Weather is one of the first things people talk about after asking how we are. Why? Well, it’s one of the few things we all share in common. If it rains, it usually rains all over town. If the thermometer goes down to minus twenty, we all feel the chill. Weather affects all of us—even in our climate-controlled homes. Comments about the weather enable us to meet others on common ground. They show we share a common humanity.
And since we all share weather, stories about torrents of rain in Vancouver, tornadoes in the Mid-west, or minus 40 degrees in Whitehorse arouse empathy. After all it could have been us whose roof blew off. We feel compassion for those who suffer the ill effects of extreme weather.
Why talk about weather? It’s a safe topic. A discussion of religion or politics might raise our blood pressure. But who’s going to disagree when we comment on the seesaw nature of our winter weather. Of course, if we get into global warming, the discussion may heat up. If we start with weather in our conversations, we can ease into more serious matters later.
Why weather? We can usually complain about it without being thought of as a negative person. Of course, there are always those perennially cheerful people who would have found a silver lining in the forty days rain in Noah’s time. No, really, don’t we all need a little harmless outlet for our frustrations? The weather just is. It doesn’t have a voice. It can’t fight back or complain to our therapist. Now, if we start moaning about bunions, aching backs, creaking knees, acid reflux or any of the myriad ailments most of us struggle with, we’ll be branded with a scarlet ‘H’. He or she is a hypochondriac. Horrors! Save me from wearing the scarlet letter.
Charles Warner, not Mark Twain, said, “Everybody talks about the weather but no one does anything about it.” Well, isn’t that good? Weather is substantially beyond the reach of human manipulation.
Now that is controversial. We are told that global warming has been caused by human irresponsibility which in turn has unleashed extreme weather. I agree that we ought to stop deforestation and commit our industries to ecological responsibility. But on a micro-level, where we live, there is very little we can do but plant trees and buy more environmentally friendly cars.
A little grumbling about the weather probably doesn’t hurt us as long as we maintain an overview like that of John Ruskin. “Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces up, snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of weather.” And above all, let’s remember, God sends the rain. (See Matthew 5:45.)