“The Weather is Here, I wish you were Beautiful” –j buffett
Maybe (maybe) the most universal effective aspect of life is weather. It concerns every person who wakes and must go outside, and even those who remain cloistered. It determines what we wear, how we travel, what grows and can be harvested, what we eat, our health, our heating bills, flight schedules, road conditions, skin cancer, landscaping, pizza delivery, getting to work, to school, to the stores to buy food, to our friends and family in need. To be clear—it is everywhere, this weather.
No metaphors here. No convoluted comparisons. Just weather.
I spend the vast majority of my time outside. I absolutely love to walk in the rain. Part of that is I know when I’m done I can dry off, change my clothes and make some tea. It is the same with snow. The cold tightness of my skin on a blustery winter day feels oddly healthy, as does the blistering sun on my neck in August. I love wearing my flip flops, shorts, a t-shirt and sweating profusely as the hours pass well into the afternoon while walking in the sun, listening to nature react. Equally, I’m completely engaged when I have to put on three shirts, a hoodie, sweat pants and two pairs of socks just to be able to go for a walk during which I might see deer, cardinals, and various other life scooting around for something to eat while I am engulfed in the deafening silence of the snow. I’ll cover the porch rail with seed and stay dressed and sit on the porch. Those birds don’t care that I’m a foot away; they stay, they brave my presence. Only in winter.
Then I go back inside and change into warm sweatpants and have tea. See, it works for me; it doesn’t work if you have no home. A little perspective there. Every time I walk in extreme weather I think about someone who might be in the streets of some cold place, or blistering hot place, and I remind myself it is more than bearable for a little while until I make the choice some can’t—to get out of the weather.
“Come in from the cold,” people say. “No I can’t it is pouring out,” people say. “Wow, it is just too damn hot,” people say. They’re not speaking for me. I like to spend as much time as possible immersed in the unbearably brilliant sensual joy of life. That includes rainy days.
Hurricane Matthew is approaching the Florida coast and predictions show it will go ashore in just a few hours. I worry about my friends there, and I think about one of my homes away from home, St Augustine. It seems at this moment the worst of this storm will not make it as far north as my house, not like Isabel did, and others. But maybe (maybe) it is too soon to tell. There are times the weather seems not so much part of nature as it is simply nature having a bad spell. Blizzards, tornadoes, drought; these to me are nature’s way of hemorrhaging.
Van Gogh wrote, “There is peace even in the storm.” I understand that. When it rains hard, or the wind is fierce and I can hear branches snap, as long as I am safe it all simply reminds me I am alive to experience this weather, this turn of currents, this atmospheric screwball, and I feel somehow calmer and more alive. Of course I love the perfect weather, the still day with low humidity and pleasant sunshine. But equally, to experience the rain on my face, getting drenched, reaching out and being a part of the earth and nature instead of it simply being something “around” me or something “outside,” floods my senses and elevates my awareness to keep everything else in perspective.
Who among us during the calm days doesn’t hope for some metaphoric lottery win, some breakthrough in life to make us feel like there is something more to grab on to? And then severe weather arrives and we shift our thoughts and pray no one gets hurt and our property is spared, and above all else that we come out of it alive. When some system swirls off the African coast creeps its way up the Saffir-Simpson Scale, it throws our lives into a whirlwind of measuring value and understanding perspective to discover what is essential. Hell, just a little rain should do the same thing. Putting on warm clothes and having tea is absolutely more enjoyable when doing so is preceded by a good drenching.
The weather is constantly changing, and so are we. Rachel Carson believed that a rainy day was the perfect time to walk in the woods. Of course. And “the best thing to do when it is raining,” Longfellow tells us, “is to let it rain.”