Just kidding! I wouldn’t blog about the weather. Seriously, how shallow do you think I am?
I will blog about talking about the weather. It’s stupid, right? It’s stupid and meaningless and shallow and ohmygod was it bizarre to move from L.A. to MN and hear people talking about the weather. A lot. Interviews with not just meteorologists, but climatologists on an almost daily basis on public radio. Civilians with bizarrely esoteric knowledge of weather history and patterns and barometric pressure. Weather is a THING.
I didn’t like talking about the weather. I lived in a ridiculously temperate climate for most of my adult life. I am a deep person, damn it. If we can’t find anything better to talk about than the weather, maybe we shouldn’t be talking about anything at all.
But, y’know … Rome: I learned to talk about the weather in Minnesota. No. That’s a lie. Like everyone else, I couldn’t help talking about the weather in winter. When is the storm coming? Are those boots warm? It’s going to be minus what tomorrow? Oh, you’ve put on weight, too? Is that guy wearing shorts? What does the Farmer’s Almanac say? Why do I feel like I want to die? Is there a right-handed glove anywhere in this fucking house?! You can’t help it. Other seasons can also be terribly interesting, but nothing competes with our winter. I began to excuse what I would otherwise dismiss as trivial conversation with the caveat that “talking about the weather in Minnesota is okay, because it may be a life or death conversation.”
Why should life and death conversations be any more significant than anything else?
Talking about the weather is worthwhile because it is a shared human experience. And unlike the shared experience of, say, a play or a party, it’s far more objective than subjective. There are some pretty good quantifiable measures of undeniably cold or unusually snowy or unreasonably dangerous. While we may react to it differently, all of us in the same area are exposed to the same input. The weather simply is and we are simply in it.
And there is something Minnesota Special about weather discussions because it is so extreme here. Talking about the weather in winter isn’t a method of evading connection. It is connection. We sink into the darkness together. We casually reveal our vulnerability and helplessness and fear and we reach out for understanding and acceptance and comfort. We talk about depression with humor and ease. It might as well be a 6-month-long AA meeting. But with alcohol. And there is something luxurious about settling into that cold & dark part of the year, like settling into that cold & dark part of ourselves, like listening to depressing heartbreak music after a heartbreaking breakup. But unlike what we tell ourselves in other dark times, we know this darkness is temporary. We know winter ends. It’s a seasonal sampler of the dark side, with the assurance that the light will come again. We have 15 1/2 hours of darkness at the winter solstice, and daylight from 5:30 am to 9:00 pm at the peak of summer. Each is always a reminder of the other, and a reminder that we’re not walking a plank, but riding a wave. That everything goes in cycles, and nothing exists without its negative. Light is meaningless without darkness. The cold makes the warm. And connecting with our fellow fucked up humans in this troubled world also makes the warm. It’s anything but trivial.