July 2, 2013 by Erin
Talkin’ ’bout the Weather
Tonight I’m going to attempt something difficult for me: small talk. Usually, I fairly suck at asking such common questions as, “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?” Now, you wanna talk about Jesus? You got it. Books, philosophy, food, or politics? Sure thing. Discuss the Great Schism? I’m your girl. Just don’t get your feelings hurt when I don’t ask you how your drive here was.
As you can imagine, this has added incredible difficulty to my life. Wedding receptions and Christian women’s gatherings (which make up like 90% of my life I think) turn into exhausting ordeals where I try my darndest to talk about nothing. I’ve figured out, though, that I have an ace in my pocket. As it turns out, the very smallest of topics is something I love talking about: the weather.
So let’s talk about it. Right now it’s about 78, sunny, and, for a July Kentucky evening, not too humid. I’m writing outside, of course, trying not to lament my struggling geraniums. But you should’ve been here last night. Around 7 a thunderstorm rolled through, bringing rain in sheets. We’ve had a wet few weeks, and our poor little drains have had about all they can take. So at 7:30, when I should’ve been on my way out the door to watch The Bachelorette with some friends (Yes, I watch The Bachelorette. I fully see the irony of mentioning this in a post when I’ve tried to make myself appear very un-shallow. But there it is. You can’t box me in.), I found my car sitting in the middle of a swift stream.
Obviously, I waded out into said stream, drove very slowly to high ground, and made it just in time for Chris Harrison to announce the first date (priorities, people).
Ok so really, why is it that we all talk about the weather so much? Why do we never tire of forecasts, reports of cloud cover from our parents’ vacation, or repeated exclamations of “What a gorgeous day!”? Well, if you will allow me to wax philosophical (you knew I would) ….
I think there are two primary reasons we love talking about the weather. First, I’m learning more and more that part of what it means to be a person is to be connected to a place. We define ourselves in part by our environment, so what happens in our surroundings affects us. I don’t know about you, but I take the weather personally. I have legitimate emotions about what’s going with the atmospheric conditions and barometric pressure and all that other scientific stuff. (That’s a technical term. Look it up.) In some ways we can’t help but talk about the weather, since our lives are so influenced by it.
Secondly, talking about the weather gives us a moment of shared human experience. In a very real sense, when it comes to the weather, we’re all in this together. The stranger in the grocery line and I may be of disparate ages, genders, cultural backgrounds, opinions, and personalities, but we both got drenched on the way in. No matter who you meet, unless one of you spent the entire day inside with the blinds drawn, you’ve got something in common. That, my friends, is solidarity.
It’s actually getting a bit chilly now, and the clouds have gone purple. Seems I’ve rambled longer than I intended. Bet you didn’t know anyone could talk about the weather so long.