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When the Weather is Inescapable

For most of my life the weather has been pretty much something that went on outside the windows.  It did its thing and I did mine.  But lately it seems that the weather is determined to make a point of itself.

Now, seasons I like.  That’s one of the reasons I’m quite happy to live in Michigan.  I grew up in Hawaii and California, neither of which have much in the way of seasons to bother anyone.  So I considered that normal.  Then I moved to England.  Not only do they have seasons, they have a national obsession with the weather.   You can have a lively discussion with just about anyone at almost any moment about a) what the weather did yesterday, b) what the weather is like today, c) what the weather will probably do tomorrow, and d) what the forecasters say the weather will do tomorrow.  Even those not fascinated with weather personally find they talk about it.  My English mother-in-law, when she moved to this side of the Atlantic, found it incredible that people could have what they considered a perfectly satisfactory conversation and never mention the weather once. Then she found the Weather Channel, and she watched that probably 10-12 hours a day.  It made her very happy.

So, probably marked by my 10-year English sojourn, I like having weather change the way it does here.  I don’t even mind talking about it.  I love each season as it comes around — I probably like spring best because it’s the shortest.  It’s such a wonderful remedy for the winter blues (after what is usually about 4 months of snow, I’m ready for a change), and it’s so short here in Michigan, where we tend to explode into summer heat early, that I never get a chance to get tired of it.

But this year is different.  We turned very very cold in December and still, except for the odd day here and there — maybe 4 of them altogether? — it stays cold.  Snow comes, and stays.  More snow falls on top of what we already have.  And it stays cold.  The problem is that I am currently writing about summer in Ireland.  In a way, that’s fortunate, because as everybody knows, it stays so lushly green in Ireland because it rains.   So if I’m feeling chilly and unsummerlike, I can simply inflict a rainy day on my characters.

Nor are we the only ones to have unusual weather.  Snow in the south, which is astonished and indignant.  California is cold and sliding down the hills.  Blizzards in Boston, where my son and my daughter live.  He’s been doing a lot of snow shoveling.  My lovely England has been reeling from snow and cold far beyond what they’re used to:  a friend of mine says she and her husband spent much of December with him pouring hot water over the outside pipes so they wouldn’t freeze while she ran her hair dryer on the inside ones.  Australia is drowning — at least the northeast corner of it.  So, I gather, is Brazil.

Now, obviously there’s a lot to be said about the very real and terrible problems these aberrations are causing.  What I’m thinking about (being terminally self-obsessed) is what about the poor writers trying to write hot books about torrid tropical romances when they slide on ice going to the grocery store.  Novelists whose works-in-progress characters are suffering from thirst while the water outside is working its way up to second-floor level.  English historical writers trying to throw themselves into vigorous recreations of Regency hunts when the ground is so hard and frozen that any self-respecting fox would be deep in cover and the hounds would curl up in disbelief at the notion of being asked to run around out there.

So how hard is it to write about one kind of weather when another is assaulting your roof and windows?  I remember one year I was writing a yearbook — you know, the kind where there’s a brief essay on each day of the year.  Well, I’d gotten to November and was writing away when I got a mosquito bite.  Write a couple of words, scratch, scratch, scratch, write a couple of words  . . . eventually decided to see if we had any Benadryl ointment left over from the summer, and trotted off to find it and on the way it suddenly dawned on me that although I was writing about November, it was in fact July.  The Benadryl ointment was right there front and center, since I then had four children battling the insect life of high summer Michigan.  Anything like that ever happen to you?

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4 Responses

  1. hm. I don’t guess I’ve ever had this hang me up. The weather is always changing in South Arkansas. A common saying is, “you don’t like the weather here? wait a couple days and it’ll change”

    and that is so very true. We had ice on the ground one day, three days later I could have gone outside in short sleeves and been comfortable.

  2. Weather is certainly infinitely changeable. I’ve heard exactly the same thing about Boston, Michigan, Cornwall . . . and I suppose for all of them it was true to some extent!

    But I guess South Arkansas has it true more consistently year round. And as long as you’re writing books placed in the South it can be any weather you choose!

  3. Well, yeah. My current book is set during August/September in Texas. Very hot…and by that time everyone is tired of the heat. Nothing delightful about sweat.

    And it’s cold here. I’m going to have to go back and intentionally layer.

    Nice post, Beppie!

  4. Liz, do I identify! It’s one thing to say that it’s hot, which is easy to do even if it’s cold. It’s something altogether different to make it FEEL hot when you’re looking around for a sweater to throw over your shoulders, because, darn it, you’re COLD!

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