Friday, April 06, 2007

Alas, the storm is come again

It’s in us. When people have absolutely nothing else to talk about, they talk about the weather. The subject is not merely a placeholder- rather it is a subject that walks along in the back of every person’s head, a pace and a half behind the immediate present. The stumbling, “What do you think of this weather we’re having?” may be the small talk of last resort, but it is relevant.
Before we domesticated the wilderness of time with an armload of calendars- solar and sidereal, Gregorian and Julian, even the temptingly primitive lunar, and leashed it with the autistic clock, wild time was weather. This relationship transcends the familiar running-late time and emotes the past-life when-do-I-plant and the-herd-is-moving time.
Weather as time is the stuff of tribes, a communion from before we all half-connected from a thousand miles away. Weather-chatter asserts the sanctity of place, the worth of local community in the face of ever more globalization.
We have all but forgotten the visceral awareness that is so tangled with weather and tribe. We don’t know where the water comes from or where it goes. Do you have a well? How long has that water traveled? Does your tap pour from a reservoir? What grows on the slopes around it? We have convinced ourselves that grapes come from a perforated plastic bag that never zips exactly shut. If you knew the names of all of the chemicals sprayed on those grapes, would you know what they do?
In the coming days, resurrect weather as time, learn the secrets of your place. Stand outside your home and see in your mind’s eye where the sun rises in June and where in December. Divine where the first spring shoots rise, ultimately to process toward their next winter sleep.
Whether this place is your home since childhood or some brief limbo before you find yourself so soon stationed somewhere else, learn it.

5 comments:

WindWhisperer said...

Hi E.R. Dunhill, how's the weather in your parts? Thanks for visiting my blog earlier and posting the lovely haiku...It's true, weather is a reliable staple for conversation. People tend to treat weather phenomenon as either a personal impediment or gratuitous windfall. Urban living tends to make weather less spectacular, but not insignificant.

E. R. Dunhill said...

windwhisperer,
Thank you for reading and commenting. The weather here is outlandishly cold for April. The cherry blossoms have protested by dropping all of their blooms. Of course, Canadians would probably crack open a Molson and go swimming in weather like this.
You raise a good point about urban living. This is something that’s been on my mind a great deal lately. The city distracts us from the nature within it; the eye is drawn to moving cars and the orthogonal angles of buildings. Everywhere are clocks.
What we forget (or ignore) is that the city is part of a natural system. Lately, I’m finding that weather is one of those pieces of wildness that asserts itself like a bull in the china shop, city or no.

WindWhisperer said...

Hi ER, so true, weather as likened to a "bull in a china shop"...the bull is welcome if he comes bearing sunshine and starry skies though...

Nabeel said...

In America, weather decides if people would go out on the weekend .. as that's the only time they go out for fun .. the rest of the time .. everyone is just busy with their work life, sadly.

E. R. Dunhill said...

Nabeel,
Sad, but true. We are so wrapped-up in our own lives that we ignore our connections with other people. What I saw in writing this was that weather asserts the community of place. You don’t know the woman sitting next to you on the train, but you share the experience of having been socked with cold rain all weekend. Distinctions like Democrat v Republican, Sox v Cubs, dissolve, and the truth that we share one environment becomes clearer.
Thank you for reading.