I never used to listen to weather reports. When my husband and I first married and lived in Brooklyn, New York, he would wake up first, turn on the radio, and get into the shower. I would get up a few minutes later. Often, as he made breakfast, he’d ask me if I’d heard the weather report. I never had. Even if someone on the radio had made the announcement, it had simply passed me by. My theory was, you looked out the window to see what the weather was and then, if something unexpected happened later in the day—rain, snow, sun—you dealt with it.
But in the past two years, I’ve come to find comfort in weather reports. So much has been alarming and unpredictable during this time: the global Covid pandemic, the state of the American democracy, the failing health and then the death of my husband, the ever-more-tangible advance of climate change. It seems impossible to make plans for next week, let alone a whole year from now.
But then comes the weather report, bearing the gift of reliability. This afternoon, says the forecaster, there will be rain. Tomorrow will be sunny and warm. Even if the predictions do not suit my own personal preference—sun when we could really use some rain, rain on the day of the picnic I want to attend—I feel consoled. I feel as if, in at least one sphere of this scary, mixed-up world, there is, if not certainty, as least a strong likelihood that a particular phenomenon will occur. There will be a future after all, and it will include things happening in the sky that will affect those of us who live in a particular region of the Earth. The weather is impersonal and cares nothing for the health, wealth, or preferences of individuals. It will do what it must do, and we must adjust to accommodate it.
Even knowing full well that climate change is influencing weather patterns all over the world, I am soothed by the knowledge that the weather is and will continue to be alive, insistent, and relevant.