Get Me Out of Here
“If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes”: a saying that must have started somewhere. When the unknown speaker first said it—though the saying is sometimes attributed to Mark Twain, the wise old Internet maintains that isn’t correct—surely it seemed especially true of that particular locality at that particular time, and everyone around him or her must have laughed. “So true,” they would have said. They would have gone home and told every one of their neighbors, and those neighbors would have told all of their neighbors, and eventually some of those neighbors would have been across state borders—which are, after all, arbitrary. And soon, people in every state came to believe the saying was theirs. In Minnesota/Maine/Ohio/Florida/New York/Illinois, we have a special saying: if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.
This, I’m guessing, was the very first meme.
And now it isn’t funny anymore. It’s been said too widely, too often. Hyperbole often works this way—at first it might be humorous to exaggerate something for comic effect, but eventually people start to get suspicious: “Why do you have such a hard time estimating realistic time frames for changing weather patterns?” and so on. But people still say it because it feels true, and it’s only going to get truer and eventually maybe false again. Sure, a single day’s weather weirdness can’t realistically be attributed to climate change, but you do notice.
For instance, in the Twin Cities on Thanksgiving Day temperatures hovered near 60 degrees in the middle of the day, and it started snowing by the time my family’s big turkey dinner was done. I hadn’t been expecting snow, and not just because of the springy weather earlier in the day; my city’s 2011-2012 snowfall was pathetically minimal, and I’ve spent the fall both anxiously awaiting winter and assuming that it would, ultimately, let me down. Watching disapprovingly as the unseasonably warm weather rolled through September, and October, and finally well into November, I felt like this winter owed me something.
So on that Thursday holiday, I was, I think, guilt-tripping the globe. It wasn’t something I decided to do on a conscious level, but I did find myself sending a number of dirty looks toward the sky and ground outside my parents’ windows. And my dirty looks are very severe. When it started to snow shortly after sunset, I was pleasantly surprised, but I was also inexplicably triumphant. I asked, and it was so.
Do most of us believe, to some extent, that we can control the weather? Do we not say anything like that out loud because we know that it sounds crazy, but do we still think wishing for rain or snow or sun might really work, at least sometimes? Is this just a personal problem? Am I projecting?
THE NEXT MORNING IT is 23 degrees outside: an entirely new season. There are two inches of snow on the ground. I’d been thinking about what terrifying new outdoors activities I could try next, as we’re in this weird interim weather phase in which it’s too cold for anything summery and sweat-inducing, but it’s also too warm (or more accurately, too snowless) for the wintry variety of activities-that-give-me-panic-atttacks. Besides, after conquering (used here loosely) my fear of rock climbing, I could use a little breather. So, I decide, this first snow morning, to take my family dog to one of the off-leash dog parks in town. But rest assured that even a simple walk like this one is not without its own special horrors: I see people I went to high school with around that area all the time.
Kiah is my family’s fourth dog overall and our third female Australian Shepherd. (The third dog, Oreo, a black-and-white lab and springer mix of some kind, was the beloved fluke we took home from the Humane Society, having gone “just to visit.”) I won’t go into her intelligence, because people talking about how smart their dogs are—so often incorrectly, too—is very nearly as bad as people talking about their brilliant, brand-new infants. Listen, almost all of us could talk by two. Almost all of us memorized the alphabet fairly early on. We were little babies; what else was there to do? But Kiah is very smart.