The color of the sky as far as I can see is coal grey.
Lift my head from the pillow and then fall again.
With a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
A quiver in my lips as if I might cry.
-10,000 Maniacs, “Like the Weather”
This is at least the third post that I’ve dedicated to the winter weather — or lack thereof — we’ve had in Vermont this year. The longer I live, the more I realize how much of life really IS about the weather. Woody Allen is quoted as saying, “90% of life is just showing up.” But think about it: your ability to show up and the events that you may or may not show up to, are both directly influenced by the weather. Case in point: many of you may know that I met Erick when he was a customer at a (now defunct) restaurant in Greenwich, CT where I spent a summer waitressing. What you may NOT know is that the reason Erick showed up so regularly in my restaurant that particular summer was because the air conditioning in his office was turned off on weekends. See? I owe my current life to hot weather (and maybe a cheapskate landlord).
Somehow, I managed to get through most of my life to date blissfully unaware that weather was running the show. I used to mock my mom for shushing us whenever the weather report would come on the radio. Now, I AM THAT MOM. I still think it’s folly to actually believe any given weather prediction, but I’m fascinated by the game of probability inherent in forecasts: Will it or won’t it? And I can’t get over how the weather forecast on the Google homepage on my laptop can be so completely different from the forecast on my iPod. (There have been times when I’ve had to double-check the location, because they couldn’t possibly be predicting weather for the same location. They were.) And the real fun comes from comparing those two forecasts against what’s actually happening out my window. It’s like gambling for non-gamblers.
I think weather seems so powerful because, in this age of technology and comfort, weather is one of the few things left that we can’t control. But, oh boy, can it control us! I first became aware of weather’s power when we started having kids. This may strike you as funny, since all of our kids were born in California, which has a reputation for being 72 degrees and sunny all the time. But let me assure you, California does have seasons – albeit seasons that are subtler than those in other parts of the country – and it does have weather. And there is a very dramatic difference in one’s quality of life when one can take the kids to the park on a sunny day vs. being stranded at home by torrential rains. Activity level, emotion, even the types of foods and beverages we consume — all of these are directly affected by the weather.
Of course, the seasons here in Vermont are much less subtle than those in California, ranging from 90-degree humidity in the summer to subzero snowstorms in the winter. And here we are in winter, when, for reasons previously explained, we were looking forward to a decent dumping of snow. Well, winter this year has been like the worst, most unhealthy relationship EVER. If I’m Elizabeth Taylor, winter has been my Richard Burton.
Oh, it started off strong. Winter was flirting with us by late fall. Snow before Halloween! A white Thanksgiving AND Christmas! Snowshoeing before the New Year!
Then, for reasons apparently best explained by “Arctic oscillations,” winter shrugged its shoulders and said, “Meh.” And it left. It left for virtually all of January and February, teasing us here and there with a few dustings of snow that melted within a day. Heartbreaking. But after the denial and grief came resignation; we were ready to start a new, healthier relationship with spring. This past week, the girls and I were marveling at the bulbs starting to bloom outside the library, we relished being able to go outside without hats, gloves, or boots. A fresh start seemed possible. And that’s when…
WINTER CAME BACK.
“You can’t forget about ME!” winter seemed to say as forecasts called for up to 6 inches of snow. Everywhere I went, people were asking: “Are you ready for the snow?” as if we lived in a place where snow is a novelty (which, granted, it has been). Speculation was running high that winter was REALLY starting and would last into April. When I picked Fiona up from preschool on the day of the “big storm,” fat flakes were starting to fall. They were sticking by the time we got home, and the girls ran right from the car to the yard to play.
It snowed all night long. Excitement was high in our house. We woke up the next morning, opened the shades, and saw this:
To which I say, “Meh.” That’s not enough snow to build a snowman or even a snowball that’s not bristling with grass. It’s like being promised dinner and a movie, but getting pizza and putt putt. I feel like I’m in eighth grade again, with a crush on the boy who maybe sort of likes me back but behaves erratically because he doesn’t know how to handle his feelings yet.
Oh well, there’s always next year. Everything gets better in high school, right?