I realized this as I walked from my house to the car. And that pretty much sums up my interest in the weather. It is a moment of interaction with nature as I walk between my car and wherever I'm going.
I thought about writing about the weather last winter when it was really cold outside. But again, it was hard to get excited about weather, even when I missed a day of work because my car couldn't negotiate the slight incline at the end of my driveway.
Knowing in advance that it's going to be really hot, or really cold, or that I will be trapped by snow doesn't help me. Many people in my town like snow or disastrous weather warnings so they can prepare. They rush to the store and buy milk and bread. I don't know how that prepares, I really don't. No one has ever been able to tell me. If I am home without milk or bread, which I am several times a week, I don't care. I eat something else.
It's possible to run out of toilet paper, but it's not like there aren't other things you can use. Kleenex. Paper towels. Get in the shower. I lived in an Asian country for two years and they never had toilet paper, no matter what the weather was. They used small bowls of water.
So how do you prepare for weather? I don't golf, but if I did, I wouldn't schedule a game during a thunderstorm. Umbrellas are nice, but most of the time I don't have one when it's raining. So I just walk quickly. I get the same amount of wet. And the amazing thing is, soon after, I get dry. It's hard to care about getting wet when it's not permanent.
It's no good dressing for weather. The calendar gives me a broad idea whether to dress light or heavy, but the fact is, I can dress for hot weather and then freeze all day in my air-conditioned office. I'd be more comfortable wearing a sweater even in the summer, anyway. Most of the restaurants I go to in the summer, if I don't bring a sweater, I'm so cold, I can't enjoy dinner.
My world is so climate-controlled, there's no point to weather. And there's especially no point to the weather segment of the news. Why do we always have to have news, weather, and sports, in that order? Some days there's no weather worth talking even two minutes about. The weather charts are pretty, but I don't care about warm fronts and gulf streams. Most of what the weather person is saying means nothing to us. All we want to know is the temperature. How hot was it? How hot is it going to be? And I'll experience that hotness for less time than it takes for the weatherman to describe it because I'm only walking to the car in it.
My boyfriend used to be a plumber on new construction sites, so he worked outdoors all day. He was actually interested in the weather, or at least the How Cold part of it. It told him how many layers of long winter underwear he needed to put on in the morning. In the summer, it made no difference, because you can only take off so much clothes when you're working construction and that's it, no matter how hot it is.
Sometimes in the morning, I encounter construction people at the 7-Eleven buying big bottles of water. I suspect that means it's going to be a hot day. By the time they need the water, it'll be hot, too. One guy paid $2.98 for two bottles of water. I felt like whispering to him, "You know, there's a way you can make that stuff at home now for free!" Maybe he didn't know.
I imagine there are people who travel a lot, and that's why the weatherman tells you what the weather is in places you are not, but do travelers care? How many people cancel trips because of the weather? Not many, it seems, because when planes crash because the wings are iced over, it's a plane full of people who didn't care about the weather. It's never a plane full of empty seats. When runways are shut down because of snow, there's an airport full of people sleeping in the chairs at the airport. They didn't care about the weather. They were going anyway. Now they are surprised and annoyed they have to sleep in the airport because the runways are closed.
Nobody, I tell you, cares about the weather. It apparently doesn't stop anyone from doing what they planned to do anyway. The television time could be better used on the evening news for stock tips or the recipe of the day.
And it's truly amazing that there is one cable channel that is nothing but weather, the Weather Channel. Twenty-four hours a day, it's all weather. Weather here, weather there, weather whether or not you're here or there. The Weather Channel is also where weather women go when they're pregnant. Most of the weather women on the Weather Channel are heavy with child. They like to wear red. Their large red stomachs obscure incoming cold fronts.
It's all very odd. So much sincerity, effort, and information is extended about something we can't do anything about.
Mariane Matera is a free-lance writer who lives in Richmond.
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