Thinking about the Weather

I hear spring has sprung, but it’s still looking pretty wintry here in Boston. Just the other day, we got hit with another foot of snow.

At the outset of this winter, I’d been hoping for a lot of snow. I was still bummed out about last year’s showing. We’d had one big Halloween-weekend snow, and then a string of bleak and soggy months. It was a long and wet prelude to spring, and it left me feeling like I’d missed out. Because usually, the weather up here is nuts. It’s kind of like a really great fiction character – dramatic, unpredictable, and often outrageous. Someone you probably never want to be real-life friends with, but whose bizarre, crazy behavior you’ll happily, even eagerly, read about.

Well, my wish came true . . .

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This year, we got plenty of snow. Blizzard after blizzard after blizzard. I spent a ton of time in my driveway – shoveling, then recovering from shoveling, and then shoveling some more.

All of the snow got me thinking about the weather (I mean, how could it not?).

There’s that trite thing that people who live in the northern states are always saying about how having seasons (re: subzero temperatures and soul-crushing amounts of snow, followed by extreme heat and soul-sapping humidity) helps you not take the nice days for granted. And it’s true (as clichés often are). What I’d to add to that, though, is that the cold and the snow and the heat and the humidity – not to mention the general, hour-to-hour schizophrenia of New England weather – is a good thing for a writer to be around. Because to not take something for granted is to be aware of it. It’s to pay attention. To be more in the present – to see. And seeing is a huge part of being a writer.

For me, the uncertain, frenetic weather in the Northeast serves as a constant reminder to look out the window, to pay attention to what’s going on outside of myself. It’s kind of like having someone tapping my shoulder every morning, saying, “See! See! See!”

Earlier this month, I spent a long-weekend in Los Angeles. It was wonderful, and in part because the weather was perfect. It was in the 60s and 70s and sunny every single day. Honestly, I don’t think I saw one cloud. The paradise-like weather helped make the vacation all the more vacation-like – a stretch of days when you can just relax and shut off your mind, not even turning it on to figure out whether you ought to pack a couple extra layers of clothes or bring an umbrella. But in a way, the wonderfulness of it all made me miss that crazy bastard of a buddy I had back home – the New England weather, which (thanks to my iPhone) I knew was putting on a great show right outside my window.

I guess I’m just the kind of person who prefers to keep Paradise as a vacation destination. Call me crazy, but I love it up here.

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