Friday, December 05, 2008

Whether there is Weather

Ok, so it's a lame title. Like "I Wonder as I Wander." What was Johnny Mathis thinking? Didn't he realize how many 5th graders like me who had to sing this song at the Christmas Show would be totally confused? "I wonder as I wonder out under the stars..." hmmm, that's an odd lyric. Or: "I wander as I wander out under the stars..." hmm, I think maybe the music publishing company had a typesetter asleep at the printing press.

But seriously, Whether there is Weather.

I'm a huge weather freak. I love extreme, unpredictable, record-breaking weather. Like back in 1978 or so, my brother and I were out in the yard when suddenly the tops of the trees started swaying, and the air temperature dropped about 30 degrees. No kidding. Years later I read in one of my weather calendars (yes, I own weather calendars that I keep to peruse later after I've forgotten some of the factoids, like the ones about the 1888 NY Spring blizzard, etc. you know the one), when I came across that very event, which is the largest single-recorded temperature drop to date. It was just so cool to be standing there in our yard and sense that something really big was sweeping over us, all around us. We were wondering as we wandered so to speak.

But here in LA, there isn't much "weather," so to speak. Yes, technically there is temperature and humidity, and sometimes it rains. But it is so seldom, and the differences from season to season are so slight as to make any comments about meteorological conditions sound ridiculous. For a long time people have made fun of my Weather Channel addiction, and the fact that I know Jim Cantore from Dave Schwartz (not to mention that I used to run into and chat with, Schwartz at the YMCA lockerroom), but I finally figured out why I really love weather. It's one of the only things left in our society that is without bounds, without controls, and impossible to predict.

Sure they can get pretty close, but even hurricanes, which they've been studying for decades, confound them. It's pretty exciting to think that the entire coast of Florida can have a weekend planned, only to have it interrupted for a day or two by a gigantic, cyclonic storm whose birth is somewhere off the coast of Africa days or even a week or more before that very weekend. Tornadoes... just amp up the timing from days to minutes or seconds. One day the house is there, the next, it's gone.

In LA where the rain can refuse to fall literally for nine months at a time, the idea that a white-out blizzard can paralyze the central US and Canada, or that a thunderstorm cannot knock out power to metro Atlanta is pretty awesome. It reminds me that there is more than just the computer, the TV, the car, the electricity. There's something up there that is unconcerned with me. It's daunting, forbidding, and gives me a thrill to think about. Sure, in LA I can feel the earth, move, under my feet, but everywhere else I can feel the sky tumbling down.

For the Whether Channel, this is Graeme Stone reporting.


Irene Latham said...

Oh I am fascinated by storms too. That whole wild and wicked Mother Nature thing. So much beyond our control! And we can't even predict it! Also, I am fascinated by space exploration. Turns up in my writing quite a lot. Does weather turn up in yours?

Graeme Stone said...

I haven't really explored weather yet, but I'm about to. It's hard to work it in without it seeming exploitative. And it's hard to write about weather in a way that people can relate to without being science or nature freaks. I think "Isaac's Storm" by Eric Larsen did a fantastic job. It's a about the 1900 Galveston Hurricane. That they haven't made a movie of it is beyond me.

Disco Mermaids said...

I've always thought of myself as a weather-freak, too. And I also think it comes from growing up in SoCal and getting real excited when it looked like something cool was gonna happen up there, and then...nothing.

Sometimes I get the itch to really start studying weather and will flip through a few books, but I think it's more a fascination with the idea of it and experiencing it, which is why I loved the tone of your post.

Isaac's Storm has been on my to-be-read list for a while. I think I'm gonna bump it up now.

Weather chasing road trip???

- Jay

Graeme Stone said...

Jay, you guys should apply for Twister Sister if it's still on the air. It's a show where duos, trios (or more?)apply for a relationship-building experience by weather chasing in Tornado Alley.
I grew up in North Florida and we had hurricanes, and thunderstorms that literally shook the house. Summer vacations to Kansas provided some pretty wicked weather too. Thankfully no close encounters with tornados.

Katie said...

Great post Graeme! You are quite a funny guy! I love reading your stories! Which assures me that one day, I shall own my very own signed Graeme Stone original :-)

P.S. I prefer LA weather. I think my skin is too thin or something, but I don't love the cold. Rain is another story. It's fun sometimes.

P.P.S Jay, y'all should do that Twisted Sister thing. I've never seen it, but it sounds fun. Maybe we could ALL do it! Yeah. And then write a story about it!

Christy Raedeke said...

SO, I'm trying hard, but I don't really get the passion for weather thing. Love that you have it, though. Interesting personality quirk to stash away for a character, at some point...

Hardygirl said...

One of my best friends from school was a weather FREAK, and he got furious at me when he flipped through my tv channels and discovered that I had deleted the Weather Channel.


Katie said...

hilarious! you can DELETE the weather channel??

Graeme, my husband loves to imitate Jim Cantore. He actually looks forward to a flood, so he can watch.

Graeme Stone said...

Clearly this exciting topic has hit lots of nerves. Next I'll write about my cat's habits because I know everyone wants to read about that. All kidding aside, I challenge Christy to lose all interest in weather when it stops raining in Oregon in January and doesn't rain again until June of 2010. The last dry spell we had was 18 months. Almost a year and a half of almost the same day over and over. It was The Groundhog Day After Tomorrow if you get my movie mash reference. But now on to more universal topics. Or toe-picks.

Rita said...

LOVE the last lines of this post. :D

Weather... Your post has reminded me--in a series of flashes, like lightning--of all the different moments when my relationship to it changed.

Graeme Stone said...

SF, how could you delete the Weather Channel? How? Where would you be without Dave Schwartz and Mike Bettes, and Stephanie Abrams. Don't these people mean anything to you? [tearful sobbing].

Graeme Stone said...

I want to write you back, but I'm not registered at LiveJournal. Whass your email girlll? You can write me on the side at