"Weather forecast for tonight: dark.” - George Carlin
The older I get, I see more and more how we become our parents. Even when we have not lived close to our parents for many years, or even years after we’ve lost them, parts of them are within us and we play them out. In my family, it seems as if the weather is a defining feature on the maternal side. My mother worked in a hospital laboratory for many years. She just sort of fell into the job and didn’t come out of it for over 30 years. However, my mother clearly ignored her calling to be a meteorologist. Mom is fascinated by the weather. She is always days ahead of everyone. She tracks the weather for every area in which we all live. She in Indiana, my sister in Wisconsin, me in Maine, my daughter in North Carolina, my son in Brooklyn, and my sister’s sons who live in New Mexico and in Jerusalem. She’s got it covered.
She particularly obsesses in winter and is on the lookout for snow in any direction. She calls me to tell me to leave early so I can take my time getting into work. I don’t think she does this just because she has gotten older, but more because there is just so much information out there. She follows the government weather website, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), along with the local news and weather.com. After one particularly long winter and weekly warnings of what was coming, I finally told my Mom she was grounded from ever talking to me about the weather again. Like all groundings of one’s mother, it didn’t last very long.
Mom isn’t content to just look at the weather where we live, she wants to talk about it with us too. My daughter and I have lovingly made fun of this for years. Yet, I have to admit, that I find myself paying closer attention to the weather now more than I ever have. It is really only in the winter. My goal each winter is for there to be snow on the ground until the spring thaw. I did not move to Maine to look at brown in the winter. So, I am always on the lookout for the next snowstorm or the next rain that might melt the snow that we already have on the ground. I know it’s silly, but we all have to have something.
I thought I was on it and then I got a text from my daughter that said: “Do you smell snow?”
“No, why?” I asked.
“Well, you should” she writes back. Then I get a text that has the weather forecast that she has copied and shared. There it was - the first snow of the year was coming. Then she confessed that she too watches the weather for all of us.
I’ve decided to think about this obsession with the weather as an expression of love. I care about you, so I care about your weather. So now I feel a little guilty because I’m not watching anyone else’s weather and think maybe I just might need to start showing a little love. It can’t hurt to know a little more about the weather. I mean who ever heard of the “bomb cyclone” winter storm that we had in 2018 and what exactly is the criteria for a blizzard? There is so much to know these days. I might just need to look up that government weather website; maybe I’ll ask Mom for tips on how to navigate it.
The weather is always with us. For those of us who do not follow sports, it is our safe topic of conversation while standing in line at Dunkin Donuts, waiting in the airport, or talking with a friend who doesn’t share your politics. It’s a safe goto every time, whatever the weather. In my family, weather-watching isn’t just a safe topic, it’s a family tradition.