Monday, July 19, 2010

Weather Watch

I'm sitting on my deck, the sky turning dark, day to night in minutes, rolling thunder in the distance. The wind kicks up, followed by a frenzy of rain, churning up memories of late-summer hurricanes, Donna a biggie in 1960 when I was growing up in Brooklyn, Bob the first time a male name was used, 1979. Resistance to male names was riddled with sexism − God knows the weather can be unpredictable, fickle, just like a woman − and took the form of a silly quip ('ever hear of a him-icane?), oddly semantic in nature. In actuality, hurricanes were first named for saints, then longitude-latitude positions, which became a little unwieldy for quick communications. It was a novel by George R. Stewart, Storm, published in 1941 (and reissued in 2003) that spawned the practice of giving hurricanes female names. The fictional storm is given the name Maria, and the novel takes readers through the twelve days of her life. She lives on, too, in the Lerner and Lowe classic, "They Call the Wind Maria," inspired by the novel.

The other day at a barbecue the talk turned to the heat spell we've been having, no end in sight, is global warming the culprit? I made the point, between sips of my margarita, that we'd had a beautiful spring. Some unusual highs and lows for the season, yes, but so many beautiful cool nights and sunny days filled with flowers that seemed especially vibrant. There was agreement, and with it some reservation. Winter, sandwiched between spring and autumn, seems endless. And summer, even with the sky still light at eight in the evening, so fleeting.

The rain stops, I decide to go for a walk, only to be caught in an unexpected shower. Did I say 'unexpected'? Didn't I check, the hourly breakdown, and see that promise of sun poking through the clouds? My instinct is to pick up the pace, get home before my sneakers start squishing. A picture comes to mind, of people I once read about who run into the rain, smiling, instead of avoiding it. I ease back into a comfortable stride. How much is really necessary, or even possible, to 'know before you go'?