I grew up in Southern California, where the weather was (in my memory at least) rather monotonously pleasant. Apart from the occasional thunderstorms or fogs, and the regular bouts of Santa Ana winds, my memories are of moderate temperatures and mostly sunny days. Though we knew there were such things as seasons, we really only experienced about one-and-a-half of them.
Here in Wisconsin it's different. Here we have Weather with a capital W, spread across four distinct and decided seasons. The weather is not only a safe topic of conversation, but knowing what to expect of it can affect one's personal safety.
When we first announced our intention of moving here, the response from our California friends was invariably along these lines: "Don't you know it gets cold in the winter?"
Yes, we knew - and we moved here anyway. And after 23 years we still like it. In fact, we love having four seasons.
We like the white-and-blue of sparkling snow and winter sky; the softness of spring rains and spring air that bring the miracle of returning leaf and bloom; the deep moist heat of summer when the corn and tomatoes seem to grow before our very eyes; the mellower warmth and the sharp frosts of autumn, with its unutterable glory of changing trees.
We like the rolling thunderstorms that can strike almost any month of the year, darkening the sky with ominous clouds and stabbing it with violet and silver and peach lightning (though always we hope it won't stab too close to the ground). We marvel at the wind that can drive a stinging snow sideways for hours, carving it into fantastic shapes, burying familiar objects, changing the look of the terrain. We maintain a healthy respect for tornadoes; also for temperatures that can rise and fall 20 to 40 degrees over 24 hours, melting snow and then re-freezing it, turning our sidewalks and roads into a vast and dangerous skating rink. We wonder at a climate that can go from 100º and 100% humidity in summer to -25º (or worse) in winter.
It has to be confessed that much of this awe and enjoyment takes place from within doors, which makes me ask myself: do I truly like Weather in all its forms? Or does my pleasure stem from a sense of comparative cosiness and safety - from knowing that while the Weather is out, I am in?
Would I want to take a walk in a lightning storm? No - but this is a matter more of prudence than preference. Do I like to go out in a heavy fog or a soaking rain? Not usually, especially if I have to be somewhere and want to look decent when I arrive.
Which raises another question: why do I like some forms of Weather less than others? Upon mature self-examination, I have to admit that it boils down to vanity. The Weather I like least is the weather that makes my hair go limp and draggly. A blowing mist is of all things my horror, especially if I have to walk to work in it. (How sad is that?)
On the plus side: I like sun and wind and clouds and snow; heat and cold, and most things in-between. Tonight when I walked home from work, the temperature was -1 (F). I'd been fighting a sinus headache all day, and the clean icy air felt (and smelled) absolutely wonderful. Who needs an icepack when you can step outside into that? I reached home too soon, and wished I could have walked a mile or two more in the lovely breathtaking chill.
I am glad to live in a place where Weather has so many faces, where grandeur and beauty, blue skies and grey, clouds and sunset, storm and calm, even dull days and heavy, all have their places upon the stage of the year, and come and go in their appointed times.
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How do you feel about Weather? Do you enjoy it most from a position of safety, or do you like to be out in it?
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