Thursday, April 8, 2010

weather or not

After several weeks of very unseasonable weather (i.e., 10-30 F above long term average), we’re now back, for a few days anyway to typical early spring. Here that means temps in the 30s to 40s F and snow on the ground.

That made me wonder about how weather helps define someone’s sense of place. For instance, I’ve always liked winter so I like places with reliable winters. I don’t think that’s a sign of a mental disorder (although Silent Snow, Secret Snow is still strongly in my memory from reading it once as an assigned reading in middle school). I think it has more to do with many fond memories of winter activities, such as sledding during snow days off from school, pond skating, and skiing. Conversely it may be due to my dislike of ice storms and slush. Let’s keep it all frozen all winter and have one thaw (Ice-9 anyone?).

So I enjoy living where there is consistent snow cover in winter and up here I have a lot of company in that way of thinking. Sometimes it’s nice to be with like-minded people. When we’d get our periodic snows in Ft. Collins and I’d hear people talk about hating snow, it made me sad and it made me wonder why in the world they’d choose to live somewhere that gets frequent snow (these were not place-bound people, these were people who intentionally chose to live there, but apparently for reasons other than snow).

I’d have to check with the experts in psychology-of-place (and there’s bound to be grad programs in it and at least two academic journals devoted to it), but I would think that the weather of a place has some bearing on the type of people who live there. Do the wild swings of mid-continental weather (80+F one day -10 F the next) make people optimistic or would it make them grouchy? Does the stereotypical southern California laid-back lifestyle come from their lack of weather worries? Conversely, there’s the stereotype of snow-country residents as self-reliant and un-excitable. I think there’s something to the latter. Unlike the air travelers who get angry at the airlines about snow delays, those of us who live with winter realize that nature rules. If we get snowed in for a day or two, we enjoy the time off. We don’t go crazy thinking we simply must go out. A day or two of being stuck at home (OK, not at an airport) is a nice break from the routine for otherwise healthy people who like the people they live with.

Obviously some people choose where to live based on weather. But we need to look beyond those choosing the sunbelt to avoid ‘bad’ weather. Some people like cooler climates. Some of us enjoy snow. There are fans of thunderstorms. Some people like drizzle and fog. There may even be people whose favorite weather is high winds with hail. It’s an ill wind, and all that. Your weather likes and dislikes are likely colored by how you associate weather with other things and events in a place. How does your place’s weather figure into your sense of place?

1 comment:

  1. Growing up in the U.P., I'm used to 6 months of snow, 2 months of summer, and 4 months of "other". The seasons played a big part in my decision to stay and work in the U.P. or move elsewhere. I certainly can't go bird hunting and enjoy the cool, crisp fall air on a sunny day in September in the middle of New Mexico (or can i?)
    We all verbally express our displeasure for the weather (stupid snow, its too hot, etc) but I think deep down we all love it, and that's why we call it home.