14 July 2005

It's not the city, it's the weather

I've heard a lot of complaints about the weather lately, and sometimes I don't get it. Yes, sometimes I'd like a hot sunny day. But it's not 35 below, and that's good enough for me.

I try to make a point of not complaining about the weather (unless I have hypothermia/heat stroke). I can't control it. No one can. What I do on Tuesday has nothing to do with what's going to come out of the sky on Friday. You can't make the sunshine by thinking happy thoughts (or as is often the case complaining fiercely and without cessation).

People are so used to being able to control every aspect of their lives that we just can't accept that such a huge factor is entirely out of our hands. We can plan a camping trip or a day at the beach, pack food, sunscreen, bug spray, related gear (tents, towels, etc.), load it in the car the night before; but no amount of intricate planning can change the fact that a low pressure system has been circulating for days and it's going to rain. Or the day that you plan to spend indoors sorting your over-stuffed closet or reorganizing your cupboards is the day that the thermometer tops out at 38 degrees including all that disgusting humidity that makes movement painful and sticky.

I watch The Weather Network a lot. It's quite possibly my favourite channel. Reality TV in its purest form, if you will. If it weren't for the physics, I might have enjoyed being a meteorologist (psst! not everyone on TV who talks about the weather is a meteorologist -- increasingly there are more weather reporters). I like knowing how the weather works. I like knowing how storms are formed, that hail is generally a summer weather phenomenon, how the environment is affected by the weather and vice versa. Stupid as it may sound, I think this understanding has make me a lot less hostile toward the elements. Maybe in part because it doesn't surprise me. The only thing I want to hear more in the morning than the news is the weather.

I live in a temperate climate. Basically it means that we don't have huge swings in temperature. 15 might feel cold compared to 20 when the temperature drops at night, but it's nothing compared to life in the desert. "The southwest coast around Cape Sable is frost free for over half the year, longer than any other place in Atlantic Canada ... Winter temperatures are moderate along the coast ... The most significant aspect of winter is the marked day-to-day variation caused by the alternation of Arctic and maritime air ... Summers are relatively cool ..." (courtesy Environment Canada). All that moisture that makes it foggy and misty so much of the year is the same moisture that makes it bearable to live without air conditioning and makes it possible to actually have an outdoor life in the winter.

Sure, I hate shovelling heavy, wet snow as much as the neighbour, but I also like my 50% chance of a white Christmas. And occasionally we may get a hurricane, but we're generally free of the disastrous weather systems that result in multiple deaths and billions of dollars in rebuilding costs. Our floods don't kill dozens, we don't have high enough mountains to cause deadly mudslides, we're too close to water to experience massive drought, we don't have enough flat, open land to nurture tornados.... See where I 'm going with this?

I should mention that I'm almost positive that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). For the past few years, by the time February rolls around, I'm pretty much in a constant bad mood. So it's not that the weather doesn't affect me at all. It's just that I'm starting to chose how much.

It 22 degrees and sunny now. I'm inside, but my office has a window.

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