Thursday, December 6, 2007

"How 'Bout This Weather!"

Last night my favorite t.v. weather guy said we could be in for it this weekend: polar air coming through, westerly moisture, gulf moisture and so forth. "It's the Winter Express," he said, "and we are for sure going to have some significant winter weather." Which is to say nothing, really. But he's my favorite weather guy because he's smart enough to admit he doesn't know. He didn't even change the previous forecast, but said the models are unclear, and we'll just have to wait and see. Humility.

This morning the girls and I headed out to the car (parked outside because the garage is full of woodworking tools, bikes, boxes and wood) and it was raining-and freezing-all over my car. I don't recall this being in the forecast. But, then again, the man said he didn't know.

The other local television channels boast of the most accurate forecasts. My favorite advertises that he will keep you advised, telling you what you need to know when they know what to tell you. After five years in the state this time, and seven previously, he's right. When severe weather hits, that channel is on the scene without the histrionics, dead on accurate about what is happening, and pretty good with predictions about where storms are going.

It's odd, though, how much we talk about the weather. It's a good icebreaker, a way to fill the silence with someone that you otherwise don't have much in common with. It's a safe topic. Your conversationalist might prefer heat to cool, or vice versa, but who really cares? It's not offensive.

But even good friends talk about the weather and the closest of family members can speak of the weather conditions several times a day. There's six in my family, and of the five that speak, each one mentions how hot or cold they are several times a day, in addition to talking about the plans they will have if the weather is nice or not. Families tell stories of bad weather and storms we've been through over and over again. This must mean that weather-talk is more than safe-conversation filler.

Weather-talk is a shared experience, and strangers and friends alike grow closer when they suffer the same phenomena. If you and I have felt the same things, suffered or rejoiced in the same instant, in the same place, we must have one more thing in common, that is, the similar event and perception of it. That other person is more like you than perhaps you first imagined. Even enemies come together under shelter from lightening and hail.

All this is to say that conversations revolving around how hot or cold it is, how crazy the weather has been, are ways we learn to find common experience and empathy with others, an almost instinctual effort to find value in others, to see the good in them, to make friends, as it were. When your enemy approaches the weather is the neutral ground, the gift of God to see that you and your enemy are both stuck in this fallen world, both dependent upon the God who sends rain on the just and unjust alike. When the woman you find irritating is standing in the elevator with you, the weather is the opening to speak, to see that she basks in the same sun and shivers in the same cold as the rest of us--that there is at least one fragment of experience you have in common to share and be friends over.


  1. Doorman-Priest said...

    And I thought it was only us British who talked about the weather!

  2. Christopher D. Hall said...

    We do speak the same language, after all...sort of.