By Gina Olson
“What do you think about the weather?” is a great conversation-starter. Everyone experiences weather, so everyone can talk about the weather. People who came to Roanoke College from cooler places probably consider the college as a Southern school with mild weather. People, like myself, who came from warmer places, probably admire the change in temperature. Or (at least this is true for me) thought some strange magic happened when the leaves actually made an effort at changing colors and succeeded. And, of course, some people just really don’t like to talk about the weather.
Though we’re all weather hypocrites sometimes and say, “I hope it will snow” or “I hope it will warm up” and then frown at the snow or start talking to our air conditioners, I think it is good for people to appreciate the different kinds of weather. To do this “appreciating”, it is encouraging to realize that weather is temporary and we can adapt.
These past weeks, Salem, Va., has experienced some wintery mixes, and Jan. 30 (and the following week) definitely satisfied anyone’s desires (or lack thereof) for wind. Historically, Salem temperatures (on average) range from 46 to 27 degrees Fahrenheit in January and 50 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit in February, according to the Weather Channel (weather.com). We can’t feel these numbers, though. Instead we tell each other it is hot or cold.
If someone is cold, the person can put on a sweater, sit by a heater, or go to the gym. If someone is warm, the person can take off a layer of clothing, drink something with ice, hover by a fan or window unit air conditioner, or go swimming.
Weather gives us opportunities to enjoy ourselves, too. Skiing slopes open for winter snows and pools open for summer heat. Clothing companies market to people by making designs appropriate for different kinds of weather, and these trying on these fashions gives us something to do.
So, it makes a lot of sense for people to talk about the weather. The weather is inescapable. And when it is escapable, a rainy day inside with a book or a movie becomes “a special rainy day inside”.
Weather doesn’t need to take up too much of our conversations, but maybe we should change our attitude towards it. We can find something entertaining in the hail, calming about the rain, or cozy about the snow, rather than grumbling or wishing for a change of weather. We can make an effort to say something good about our least favorite rains, snows, sleets, hails, or heat waves. Maybe we can all find a way to appreciate the weather in each season.
I don’t enjoy spring, but maybe I should try to find something nice about it—focus on rain, rather than the one kind of flower I can’t stand the scent of. Maybe you can, too? Think about it. When you find your conversation dwindling to “weather talk”, consider that maybe this “small talk” is important.