We’ve been spoiled with mild winters in recent years, but this is a Cache Valley winter from days of yore. The kind we’re famous for. The kind I remember trudging up Old Main Hill through as a college student when I made a rookie mistake and enrolled in a 7:30 am math class winter quarter as a freshman.
Why do we talk about the weather so much?
My brother who lives in Virginia called the other day to catch up and we spent the first thirty minutes comparing weather conditions. I told him how we got almost two feet of snow, then came the sub zero temperatures followed by torrential rain and sleep-disturbing winds.
He laughed when I told him how our school officials generously delayed school two hours the day of the blizzard to give time for everyone to dig out from under the snowdrifts in order to get to school. I laughed when he told me their school was canceled for two days because a skiff of snow had fallen one night.
My brother and I don’t get to talk very often and yet we spent precious minutes of rare conversation time talking about the trivialities of weather. Why is that? Well, I did some research to find out why we so often defer to climate conversation.
#1 – It’s a universal topic. We’re all affected by the environment and studies have shown our moods and well-being are greatly influenced by the weather, so it’s often at the forefront of our thoughts. The commonality of it makes it a topic anyone except The Boy in the Plastic Bubble can discuss.
#2 – It’s a good icebreaker. Studies show the weather is the topic most often brought up between strangers. When you’re riding the elevator with a stranger it’s much more acceptable to say “What a beautiful day,” than “You should really have that mole looked at.”
#3 – It’s a safe topic. You can hardly say anything about anything these days without offending somebody. But simply stating the factual conditions of current climate is usually controversy free. Just don’t go rogue and say how you feel about the rain or sunshine because somebody may not feel the same way about it and have to retreat to a “safe space” on a college campus to recover from the trauma of being exposed to adverse ideas.
#4 – It’s a light topic. I think my brother and I began with the weather to warm up before getting to the nitty gritty of what’s going on in our lives. It’s not like I’m going to answer the phone, “Hey bro, how did your first holiday with your stepson visiting there go?” And luckily he didn’t lead with “Hey sis, I heard you managed to cause drama at the family Christmas party yet again.”
When I got the text asking to RSVP about how many members of my family were going to participate in one of the party activities I thought was optional and would’ve cost over $100, instead of responding with “none,” I should have responded with “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.” Then everyone would’ve just been confused instead of upset apparently.