Watching the weather is a favorite hobby of mine. I don’t generally get my weather reports from television, but I might as well be one of those people we see in comedies, who fixate on the Weather Channel and sit there for hours, soaking up data about places they’ve never been, never intend to go, and if they did go there, they wouldn’t know anyone. Those people are portrayed as coots. (One definition of a coot: simple-minded.) A weather fanatic will say to no one in particular, “I knew it. I knew that system was gonna come in early.”
Except for not watching the Weather Channel (tornadoes and hurricanes are exceptions that demand TV coverage) I may be one of those people.
I check the Weather Channel’s website several times a day for places where friends and relatives live. Every trip for me begins with www.weather.com where I can fill in the name of any city and see what’s predicted for the next ten days.
It might be an inherited trait, since my country born-and-bred father had a set of weather instruments on the back porch and glanced at them several times a day, always remarking out loud on what he saw there. He often disputed what the dials told him, and he was always right. He could feel changes in his bones.
Something about working out in the fields as a boy and his own deep respect for nature had permanently tuned him in to the time for sowing and the time for reaping. His instincts often did not agree with the calendar. He’d wake up and announce that he was going out to our vegetable garden. “I better go pull up the radishes and the collards before the sun hits ’em again.” And this while rain was still falling. He knew when a big change was coming.
I don’t have the knack he did for predicting imminent change, but I’m always hopeful about it. Our problems may stick around, but at least we can count on the weather to change. When my diagnosis is boredom, just watching the weather offers promise.
One reason I love my part of Northern California (and envy New Englanders) is that the weather plays tricks on the forecasters. Mother and Father Nature send along surprises for us several times a month. We’ll get rain when the sky was clear a minute ago. Big winds arrive high up in the treetops, when the lower limbs don’t even know it yet. Fog rolls in and out, but not always on the schedule we expect. I’m disappointed when the fog fails to appear. Like the redwood trees in the back yard, I rely on absorbing fog through my pores.
I like being surprised by the weather. Keeping the family’s weather-watching tradition alive (my brother does this too) the first thing I do when the day arrives is go see what the weather is like outside, and I do it again before sleeping. It seems I’ve been making my own notations out loud to no one in particular, without realizing it. (Another definition of “coot” might be “predictable.”)
I haven’t been a grandmother all that long and sometimes I forget a small person is nearby. They’re always listening, aren’t they? One recent morning while I was visiting at her house, I opened the drapes and stood there for a minute with my coffee cup. From the little girl who’d snuck up behind me I heard,
“Hammy, you forgot to say ‘It’s a beautiful day.'”
Generations of weather-watchers later, we’ve added one more.
Ó Anita Garner