Why the Weather

It’s spring in Southern California and it’s bleak. Not like the edgy grayness you know is about to burst into some sort of green grandeur. What flowers are out have been here all year. They’re like the local homeless guy you see all year long. You no longer have sympathy when you see them every day, sometimes shopping at your local grocery store. That’s the way it is with the roses and jasmine and what have you.

I actually miss the Scottish weather. That was not something I thought I was going to take away when I moved there a few years ago. The most common response I got was: “Why would you want to move there? The weather’s terrible.”

But I liked the bleakness. The ever changing landscape of the sky as the clouds billowed and blowed, some force in the sky. I could feel sorry for myself and just blame it on the weather and then be happy I was home and dry. You could bury yourself in every kind of wool possible and never know what the day might bring. Or go to the pub and imbibe in some concoction of hot liquor and know even your mother would approve of warming up. Someone was constantly offering a cup of tea.

Of course the one day that rained, sleeted, snowed, and blew gales around 40 mph in the course of an hour was a little much. But there’s nothing like spontaneity to make you feel alive, and once you saw the sun bursting through, you knew you were lucky to get that chance hour to sit in the sun.

Compared to that, Southern California weather is stagnant, dull, mediocre. Now I revel when there is stormy weather and burgeoning clouds threatening the horizon. I rejoice when I think there might be wind or rain. Today I sat in the garden at work, reading a book and having to look up every once in awhile to guess if those storms clouds were about to thunder down upon me and ruin my book. It was blissfully cool – the perfect crisp air humming around, instead of the normally stagnant and parched heat, unusual for April, but I’ll take it – this weekend is predicted to be in the mid-70s Fahrenheit.

My brother accused me of preferring Scottish weather because it gave me the opportunity to have more clothes. He’s partially right (I had a wardrobe crisis today when I realized I was out of clean clothes and what I had left was an odd assortment of ski sweaters, wool skirts, and cotton summer beach clothes), but I think we have an affinity for weather as humans — why else would my mother always check her rain gauge after a storm? Or people put up with the lacking precision of TV weather forecasts?

My next thought was that maybe that’s why weather is considered a polite, albeit boring, topic of conversation. But I think it’s just an excuse to talk about something we’re all thinking about anyway.


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