Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Insulting Weather

When I was an adolescent, my mother sometimes got sick of me.  Hard to believe, I know.  Like all other adolescents, I was invariably respectful, neat, moderate, mannerly, appreciative--and wise, really.

But now and then I would get annoyed at the weather.  And I would complain about it in my customary restrained adolescent tone in a voice that, at the time, was deciding whether to be a soprano, alto, tenor, or bass.  (Throughout my high school years it settled for a mixture, I fear.)

"The weather is not a personal insult," Mom would say.  And I would think dark thoughts of things I would say right then if didn't really want to live any longer.

"The weather is not a personal insult."

Yes it is.  Obviously.  It often rained on days we had little league baseball games--that's insulting.  Back in Oklahoma, in elementary school, it was hot as hell (I do not exaggerate) in the fall and spring in our un-air-conditioned brick schoolhouse.  (Why on earth would you build a prairie schoolhouse out of brick--did you plan to have it double as an oven?)

Or the western sky would turn a boiling red as a dust storm approached.  That's an insult.  Though not always--we sometimes got sent home early when it looked really bad.  I would fasten my Cub Scout bandana across my face like a border outlaw and fight the wind all the way home.

At Hiram College, we were snowed out of a tennis match on May Day.  Insulting.

Later on, we had an ice storm the night of our marriage in December 1969.  My grandmother fell and broke her wrist.  (That's not insulting?)  And on our honeymoon, we drove on the ice, mostly sideways, all the way to New Orleans.  That was insulting.

This past Thanksgiving, we drove in an all-day downpour, Ohio to Massachusetts (ten freaking hours!), to be with family.  Insulting.

And this morning?  In mid-April?  I walk outside to head to the coffeeshop.  And nearly fall on my prat because the porch and stairs are coated with snow--as is Joyce's car.  Halfway there, my tennis shoes are soaked.  A major insult.

I remember a story in an elementary school reader--about a contest between the sun and the wind.  They bet who is the more powerful--and they use as a test case a random pedestrian walking below.  (See?  The weather plays with us!)  They want to see who can make the man remove his cloak.  Well, the wind blows like mad--like an Oklahoma dust storm--but the guy just wraps it more tightly about him.  Then it's the sun's turn.  He waxes warmer and warmer and warmer.  And, gee, guess what happens?

I'm not sure what moral the teacher wanted us to extract from that story.  But what I learned is that the weather is a personal insult--if not assault.


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