« Remember Robin Hood - Plant A Tree | Main | Caring For Young Refugees »

The Scrivener: Weather-beaten

ÖBlaming somebody else or something else is a popular disease of our times, isnít it? I wonder how many people would join a class action against God if that were possible? Or perhaps they would sue sinners, on the basis that bad weather is Godís punishment for their sin. Thank goodness we donít have to believe in a God like that!Ö

Brian Barratt considers the weather in all its varieties.

For more of Brianís sunny words please click on The Scrivener in the menu on this page. For another feast of intellectual fun do please visit his Web site The Brain Rummager www.alphalink.com.au/~umbidas

In the late 1940s, I upset one of my older sisters by telling her that she looked weather-beaten. At the time, she was a member of the Womenís Land Army*. What I should have said was that she had a healthy, open-air complexion.

Years later, during one of my return visits to England, a voice spoke to me from on high. It came as quite a shock. I was walking along one of the streets of my childhood when the voice called out, ĎTurned aht nice-agenn, antit?í Thatís Nottinghamshire dialect for, ĎThe weather has improved somewhat, has it not?í Someone I had never seen before and whom I had not even noticed, because he was up a ladder, greeted me with a comment about the weather.

Itís the same here in Melbourne, Australia. We usually have such changeable weather that itís always a conversation starter. Every November, someone will tell you that itís never rained like this before, or weíve never had so much wind. However, weíve had so much weather in between that they forget that November is nearly always like that.

Then thereís the rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney, each saying that they have less rain than the other. Truth be told, Sydney has more rain but it falls more heavily over shorter periods, whereas Melbourneís rain is spread randomly in smaller doses over longer periods.

Brisbane is different. During a boring conference I had to attend in that city, there was a sudden tropical downpour. I rushed outside and stood in the rain, arms outspread, relishing every heavy drop. It reminded me so much of my time in central Africa, where rain came as such blessed relief after the long, hot months. The Brisbane locals tapped their heads, muttering, ĎHeís from the south, poor blokeí. American visitors probably thought I needed to visit my therapist, not that I have one. British visitors would have been too disoriented to notice.

Over the past couple of years the drought has changed our weather patterns. Lack of rain is having a very bad effect on farmers, crops and the economy as well as on gardens.
Farmers probably know as much as meteorologists about short-term forecasting. They can predict changes by watching the movements of cows, birds and even insects. In one of our chats in the wetlands behind my back fence, a retired farmer pointed out the small flocks of galahs moving from tree to ground to tree. When galahs fly around like that, he told me, the weatherís going to change. When I came home, I checked the barometer. It was falling. Sure enough, we had rain that night.

Even at the best of times, we city-dwellers blame the weather for all sorts of things, donít we? Hot days, cold days, windy days, whatever, are all scapegoats for our problems. Sometimes the complaints are legitimate. Even though my doctor laughs at the idea, I reckon that my sciatica, bursitis and arthritis are exacerbated by changes in humidity and barometric pressure.

Blaming somebody else or something else is a popular disease of our times, isnít it? I wonder how many people would join a class action against God if that were possible? Or perhaps they would sue sinners, on the basis that bad weather is Godís punishment for their sin. Thank goodness we donít have to believe in a God like that!

What we certainly do not need is weather reporters on TV telling us how we should feel about the next dayís temperatures. You know the sort of thing I mean. They tell us that it will be Ďa warm 35í or Ďa cool 17í. But on other occasions, itís Ďa sweltering 35í or Ďa mild 17í. We might even expect Ďa fine 35í or Ďa wet 17í, as if such things were possible. These figures, by the way, refer to Celsius readings.
Apart from worrying about the major disasters, perhaps we could be philosophical, like the Yorkshireman who drily told me, ĎIf you canít see them hills over yon, it means itís rainin'. If you can see them, it means itís goin' to rainí. He might have been weather-beaten but the weather didn't beat him.

* Founded in Britain in 1917 to encourage women and girls to work on farms, especially in wartime. It was disbanded in 1950.

© Copyright 2007 Brian Barratt

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.