Friday, June 18, 2010


Back when I lived in California, and Spain, and Germany, I used to read books where characters stood around, talking about the weather. I thought this was exceedingly odd behavior, but now that I live in the Midwest, I understand completely.

Now, it's a regular staple of conversation: "Well, the weather radio said we were under a severe thunderstorm watch, but it sure doesn't look like it now, does it?" "Yeah, I wish the storm would show up and cool us off..."

Beware of what you wish for.

The storm blew in as we were sitting down to supper, and it blew in hard. The sky got darker and darker, and then the winds picked up dramatically. I heard a swish and a thump among the sounds of trees roaring in the wind.

Fiona was very concerned that all manner of things would blow away, including the decorative wind sock (with good reason; I fished it out of the mulberry tree...) to her bicycle (which I thought much less likely, but I humored her anyway.) When I was taking her bike around to the shed, I saw this:

Er, yeah. That's a good chunk of our northeast tree, broken off from about 30 feet up, and mashed right through my neighbor's porch. Amazingly, no one was hurt (various people had gotten inside just 30 seconds earlier) and the branch missed the main part of the house. I'd have trouble getting my arms around that branch.

Chris and Ryan plotting on how to make the front door usable again.

Well, at least the roots held...

Down the block, there were more limbs, and even an entire tree down. This one split about 25 feet up — that was not a small tree.

No one was hurt, that we know about... and we've got plenty to talk about now.


Uno que aprecia a Carolina said...

I'm very glad no one was hurt.

I think you should call your homeowner's insurance company (hopefully you have one) because they probably want to know right away if something fell from a tree rooted in your property onto your neighbor's property. Your neighbors should also call their insurance company.

Jonadab said...

Wait, are you saying people in other parts of the world don't talk about the weather? How do they start conversations with strangers, then? Everywhere I've ever lived, talking about the weather is the standard way.

There's an old saying: "If you don't like the weather in [name of place where you live], wait five minutes." I've heard this said, on various occasions years apart, pretty much verbatim, of at least four different states and any number of towns. I don't know who came up with it originally, but apparently it has spread across a pretty wide geographical area, and in my experience nearly everyone who says it thinks it's local to their own town or state.

Andy said...

Yes, but, forgive me if I'm wrong, haven't you spent most of your time in the midwest?

I never heard the "If you don't like the weather..." line until I came here. Seriously. You'd occasionally get some guy in California who'd trot out the old "Hot enough for ya?" but such people were viewed as being poor conversation. In Costa Rica, you had rainy season, and you had dry season. During the school year, you knew you'd get dumped on just as you got off the school bus. There wasn't any point discussing it. In Germany, we wouldn't discuss the weather, unless it snowed, in which case discussions involved an exchange of snowballs. Spain? Yeah, it's hot. What are you going to do about it? Here, there's enough unpredictability and widespread variation that it makes for moderately interesting conversation.

Jonadab said...

All over the midwest, yeah, but if you do the Google search, I think you'll find that the saying is not quite as geographically restricted as that. Apparently it's popular in pretty much every US state plus about half of the Commonwealth countries.

Jonadab said...

It occurs to me that although the saying itself ("wait five minutes") is probably American in origin, the tradition of talking about the weather in general almost certainly came over from England and most likely predates the age of exploration. That would explain why the entire English-speaking world talks about the weather, and Spain and Costa Rica and Germany don't so much.

Andy said...

interesting theory, but I don't buy it. For one thing, you seem to be under the impression that they speak something under that English in California.

Jonadab said...

The way I hear it told, in southern California they mostly habla el Espan~ol.

Andy said...

Nope, the lingua franca is still English.