It’s pouring, and I’m listening. The sky is getting dark, and I am hoping for some thunder. Maybe even some hail. I open the door for a whiff.
How is it possible for the girl who grew up with the repeated mantra “Oh no, it’s raining” to be so entranced with the sound and the smell and the look of a storm?
I’ll tell you how.
About 30 years ago, a dear friend was visiting. My mother, the mantra moaner, was living with me at the time. It was snowing, and my friend was wandering out and coming back in and wandering out and coming back in, dusting off the snowflakes. And one of the times he was in, he said, “You guys have got to come out and see.” And in unison, like a Greek chorus, my mom and I said, “But it’s snowing.” To which he replied, “That’s the point. It’s gorgeous out there.” Reluctantly, we bundled up, looking as if we had starring roles in “Doctor Zhivago,” and throwing caution to the wind (which actually was picking up), we stepped outside.
Indeed, first in shock and then in awe, it was beautiful. We stood under the eaves, sheltered, and watched the swirling flakes dance and glisten. And because we were dressed for the tundra, we didn’t even get cold. We didn’t have to voice this, but I know we were both thinking, How could we have missed the exquisite power and beauty of a snowstorm?
Many years before I had this paradigm shift, I had had an audition to be the weather girl at Channel 30, the TV station 10 minutes from my house. I remember on my way there thinking, I’m good at impromptu stuff, and I’ll wing it, and maybe even land the job. There were several problems even before they gave me the 3 by 5 index card to memorize with all the meteorologist specifics in tiny print.
One, I wasn’t blonde.Two, I wasn’t thin. Three, no cleavage. And four, probably the main reason I didn’t get a callback: I can’t memorize. And maybe five, my heart was pounding so loudly it more than likely broke the sound system. But I gave it my best shot.
I remember taking the wand and pointing at the whole edge of the right side of the map and saying something like, There is a cold front moving, and then I walked across the floor to the other edge and i think I said (and I admit this was not professional lingo) from this side of the map to this other side of the map. I couldn’t think of the words East and West, and I couldn’t think of the word coast either. Needless to say (but I’m saying it anyway), I never heard from Channel 30. Not even a Thank-you for your courage.
Shortly after I started making peace with the weather, I got a grandson. And when he was 4, he said he wanted to go sledding. I hated sledding as a kid. Remember, it was outdoors and cold, and besides, there was a whole lot of weather out there.
But when you have a grandchild, your brain insists on forging new pathways. You can’t say no. It’s your job as Gramma to open your mind, to take risks, to be a role model for courage. And I had just turned my back on the word inclement.
So I bought ski pants for a grownup (who knew they had such a thing?), and I bought two plastic sleds, and as long as I kept my mind on the floating marshmallows on the top of the cup of the hot chocolate we would have as soon as this torture was over, I was not only able to survive but I actually loved every minute of it.
So as I’m sitting here, celebrating every raindrop, I am imagining if I got that weather job now what I would say.
Wow! What gorgeous day! I know I’m not a singer, but I’m just gonna belt out a few bars of “Stormy Weather,” if you’ll indulge me. And then I would break out in song. Because today is a special day. If you are on your way to work, think of how happy the gardens are, to be nourished. Think of the worms that are getting a chance to get out for a bit. Think of the shops that sell umbrellas. Think of the bath that nature is giving the hot and the dusty. If you are home and can curl up with a good book, you can turn off the radio or the television, and the meditative sound will heal your heart.
You know folks, I used to hate storms. Rain and snow and sleet, and then one day someone turned me around and helped me see another perspective. I’m not telling you if it’s icy that you should enjoy driving bumper-to-bumper and stressed that you might not make it home. I understand some weather is worthy of paying respects to. But all my young life, I heard my family complaining that now everything is ruined because of the rain. And the message came from the weathermen. Another lousy day, they would say. Well, if sunshine is the only thing that is gonna make you happy, you’re gonna have a lot of not-so-happy days. It’s a choice. How many lousy days do you want? Don’t we have enough stuff to worry about that we can’t control? So enjoy today.
But get out your mufflers, because there is a cold front moving from the West Coast all the way (and I would sashay over to the other side of the map, and with great assurance put my pointer on the edge and finish with a flourish) to the East Coast.