The Weather Rules

“It is commonly observed, that when two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather; they are in haste to tell each other, what each must already know, that it is hot or cold, bright or cloudy, windy or calm.” Samuel Johnson

I was walking outside recently in an unexpectedly warm 80 degrees. It was impossible not to smile. A woman, about my age, was passing by me. “So” she said, also smiling. “ You like it when it’s warm outside.” “Around here, how could I not?” I replied.

I know it’s trite to talk about the weather and what we might say about it is little more than a cliché. And I know there are far more important matters to write and talk about than the weather.

But let’s face it: We all experience the weather in one way or another. And where I live in the Pacific Northwest, the weather is on everyone’s mind, everyday of the year, including this Memorial Day weekend, which, unlike previous years, promises to be rain-free.

“Cold enough for you today?” “When are we going to see the sun again?” Even though it may be boring to talk about it the weather, doing so is often a stepping stone to more significant matters.

Then there are the generalities that are often made about the weather.

• It is said we may be more helpful when it is warm.
• Or that we spend more money when it’s sunny.
• It is also claimed that warm weather elevates our mood and makes us more productive.
• The cold and cloudy days of winter are also believed to be one of the sources of depression.

Yet it is equally clear that some people are more affected by the weather than others. I am one who is and so over the years of my reading, I have added passages about the weather to my commonplace book. Here are a few representative examples:

Life is weather. Life is meals.
James Salter LightYears

Spring. The weather is warm, the chestnut trees are in flower, brilliant tulips bloom in the Luxembourg Garden.
Lily Tuck I Married You for Happiness

Weather forecasting is one of the success stories in this book, a case of man and machine joining forces to understand and sometimes anticipate the complexities of nature. The more fundamental issue is that we can only observe our surroundings with a certain degree of precision.
Nate Silver The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—but Some Don’t

The weather. A variety of weather doom. The weather made me her feel as if there was no point to life: whether you worked hard didn’t matter, whether you found someone to love didn’t matter, because even if you worked hard and found someone to love, a day like this would come, when a strange damp coolness seeped in through the windowpanes and seeped in through you, making you see that everything was meaningless.
Brian Morton The Dylanist

Summer afternoon—summer afternoon: to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
Henry James

And yet the image of the south, the image that all northerners have, was irresistible. All the clichés came into play: markets, cafes, a more relaxed and indulgent way of life. And the sun, the sun!
Anita Brookner The Rules of Engagement

Anything can happen on a summer afternoon
On a lazy dazy golden hazy summer afternoon
Lily Tuck I Married You for Happiness

But I do so enjoy the feel of the sun on me…
Janice Y. K. Lee The Piano Teacher

Today, in this place [Auschwitz] our only purpose is to reach the spring. At the moment we care about nothing else…In the morning while we wait endlessly lined up in the roll-call square for the time to leave for work, while every breath of wind penetrates our clothes and runs in violent shivers over our defenceless bodies, and everything is grey around us, and we are grey; in the morning, when it is still dark, we all look at the sky in the eat to spot the first signs of a milder season, and the rising of the sun is commented on every day: today a little earlier that yesterday, today a little warmer than yesterday, in two months, in a month, the cold will call a truce and we will have on enemy less.

Today the sun rose bright and clear for the first time from the horizon of mud. It is a Polish sun, cold, white and distant, and only warms the skin, but when it dissolved the last mists a murmur ran through our colourless numbers, and when even I felt its lukewarmth through my clothes I understood how men can worship the sun.

We fought with all our strength to prevent the arrival of winter. We clung to all the warm hours, at every dusk we tried to keep the sun in the sky for a little longer, but it was all in vain. Yesterday evening the sun went down irrevocably behind a confusion of dirty clouds, chimney stacks and wires, and today it is winter.
Primo Levi If This is a Man