What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.
― Jane Austen
In the decade I lived in London, I never minded the weather. I bought myself a well-made expensive umbrella, stayed calm and carried on. I had no expectations that it would be warm and/or sunny anywhere in the British Isles, having prepared myself for the louring English sky with my reading of Austen and Bronte. Louring. It's the perfect word, a variation of lowering. Indeed, dear reader, I can think of no other word to evoke the soft, sometimes drizzly grey blanket that sits under the blue sky and sun's rays, obscuring it, obfuscating it, chilling those that walk beneath it in all seasons, until recent climate-changed warmer summers. Indeed, it must have been rare for Jane Austen to feel the sun's warmth during her lifetime (1775-1817) else she would not have written that sentence.
If the weather is so often awful, why do the Brits talk about it incessantly? It was a wonder, really to have found myself a willing participant in the ongoing, continuing, unrelenting conversation about atmospheric conditions, and to relinquish that cultural habit once I returned to the United States. Oh, how I missed it, though. It was a lubricant in a notably reserved society where conversational lubricants, however ritualized, are sorely needed So, too, the kettle always on the boil, the porcelain tea pot, and the extremely strong cuppa with just a dash of milk. That tradition has sustained me to this day, especially at breakfast. There's solace in the thought that the often brutal British Raj in India (1858-1947) left one beneficial legacy, at least.
Fast forward to the summer of 2023 in the Mid-Hudson Valley under a too frequent louring sky. Cool one day, humid and blistering the next, culminating in ferocious thunder storms and flooding. Morning, mid-day, and night, I check my two weather apps, I check the air quality, I pay attention to the fires in Canada and am grateful there have been no fires in the Minnewaska Ridge of late. I plan a walk and talk with friends early or mid-day, or late, depending on the weather. Weather conversations inevitably culminate in climate change conversations in the present tense. The change is here, we are living it.
With thanks to #sistersinlaw Joyce Vance (Alabama), Jill Wine-Banks (Illinois), Barb McQuade (Michigan) and Kimberly Atkins Stohr (DC) for inspiring this blog post about the weather.