Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Winter of Our Discontent (NaNoWriMo November 11th)

Weather used to be what people grumbled about, worked around, and waited for a change in. 

When I was a child, snow was a joyous excuse to miss school and build snowmen or go sledding. Rain was a nuisance, but its end brought rainbows and mud puddles to splash through. 

Even tornadoes were a neighborhood event, a pretext for a party where we would gather in a cellar and grumble together while we waited for the end of the storm.

As a new homeowner, weather suddenly became a personal problem. Snow had to be cleared from sidewalks, and the driveway dug out from the passing of the snowplows, to prevent slip-and-slide suits and allow the delivery of mail. Rain or melting snow meant cleaning up the mud that pets and visitors brought inside, marking the cat-flap door or the entry floors with their footprints. Tornadoes were a passing thrill seen on the news; they rarely threatened the built-up area where we lived.

Even so, we still grumbled about the weather, worked around it, and waited, patiently or otherwise, for it to change. The transition to sunshine and warmth (though not too much warmth for comfort, one hoped) was a reliable miracle that happened in spring and summer each year. When summer's heat became a burden, we grumbled about that, and prayed for rain.

Weather today is much more political. Floods, storms, tornadoes and blizzards are no longer regarded as acts of God, but as crimes committed by greedy people. The meaning of the latest cold snap or warm spell, drought or flood, is disputed and hotly debated. Blizzards and torrents of rain bring storms of TV coverage and images of errant atmospheric disturbances to every newscast.

New jargon clusters around old weather ills: polar vortex, peak flood, cyclone lows. Politicians gather like crows, ready to contend for whatever public money may be available to spend in contending with its effects.

We have exchanged grumbles about weather for lawsuits, traded waiting for the weather to change to marching in protest until it does. Unwilling to work around the weather, we seek a way to even it out and make lie flat, lamb-like. When we cannot, we look for someone to punish.

Off my soapbox now. Back to writing the third in the Fateful Weather series...

Total: 19,577 words