November 05, 2005


Longtime Burn fan F'resca asks why I am interested in the weather. Please, let me count the ways!

I think it all began when I was a tyke who liked to study old grandpappy Clarence Johanson and his barometer. (Grandpa would say, 'So, whaddya think!?' and I was flattered to have been asked. Figured I'd better start thinking so I'd have a reply next time he said that.) Clarence had been a farmer his whole life and then of course you need to follow along with weather and seasons and stuff like that. (Well of course he was also an accountant for a creamery and a soldier with the Ohio Buckeye signal corps in Belgium in WWI, but then he started farming. He was called into court once to testify against the owner of the creamery who had been skimming, as they say.) We'd drive up to Wheaton to visit-- this was after they'd sold the homestead to my uncle and moved into town. But even so that barometer hung by the door along with a few cobs of feed corn. Seemed like a magical device, full of spirals and diaphragms that were able to divine the rhythms of the skies. 'Unsteady.' 'Storm.' 'Fair.'

Part of my inheritance as a minister's son is a strong belief in the power of smalltalk and there is no better smalltalk than weather. As they say, everyone's talking about the weather but no one ever does anything about it. The weather is a link to a higher plane-- it unifies us because we all experience the same wind and rain in life, all over the globe, and it keeps us all humble. What are we in the face of a supercell? Just a little speck, a mote, pedaling or holding its jacket and parcel.


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