SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
It’s human nature to complain and want change, and I’ve come to realize why people can adjust to change so quickly: It’s so they can complain some more.
Over the winter, I heard a lot of people complain about the cold. Yet here in northeast Indiana we didn’t have that much cold. On the day I wrote this it snowed in California, but rained here. By the time you read it we’ve had a series of record high temps. I’m not complaining.
Oh, who am I kidding? Of course I’m complaining. It’s not 75 degrees right now, after all.
That’s my point. We got out on a day when it’s 50 degrees and complain that it’s not 70 – even when the average is 30 that time of year. Meanwhile, as I mentioned in an earlier column, the people who like to ice fish complain that it’s not colder, even though they’re saving on their heating bill and aren’t as likely to fracture a skull on ice while just walking out the front door.
Even I sometimes complain about being too hot. Two years ago, while vacationing in southeast Missouri, I got very grumpy when my glasses melted in the sun, especially since they were on my face at the time. Still, just as some people of dubious sanity prefer winter, I’ll take summer any time.
I think I know why, too. I’ve always been fascinated by the weather (yes, I’m that dull), so I pay attention to the almanac: that thing before the forecast where they mention all the normals and records and such for the day. It took me awhile to realize something very interesting:
I was born on July 14th, and the year I was born a heat wave set several record high temperatures, some of which still stand today. That winter a cold snap hit – a cold snap that also set several records, many of which also still stand.
The conclusion is obvious. I was born into heat (and no, we didn’t have air conditioning back then), and my body thought that was normal. When I was six months old and got a taste of real cold, I didn’t like that – not one bit.
We’re simply a product of our upbringing. Someone should do a study and find out how many of those nutjobs who like winter were born during a cold snap, or maybe in the back of a refrigeration truck.
Since then, it seems many of the big moments of my life were defined by the cold, and don’t even get me started on the Blizzard of ’78. Okay, too late – you got me started. To people around here, that’s the snowstorm that every other snowstorm must kneel down (in the snow) and worship. We had Everest sized snow drifts. The state of Iowa actually blew into Indiana that week. The temperature dipped so low that it beat some of the records from the winter after I was born, which oddly enough didn’t make me feel at home at all.
At the time I didn’t mind so much, because I was in high school and we didn’t have to make up canceled school days as much as they do now. It was even the first time I managed to get some mileage out of bad things happening: I wrote a column for the Central Noble High School newspaper – my first humor column. I described something like going crazy with cabin fever, cranking open the kitchen window and, when a snowdrift avalanched in, rolling around in it while hallucinating I was on a sandy beach.
Yeah, even then I had off writing days.
I learned to truly hate winter in the early 80’s, a time when it got so bad that many climate scientists predicted a new ice age might be approaching. Gotta love those climate scientists. Unfortunately for me I’d become a volunteer firefighter by then, so just rolling into a fetal position under all my blankets wasn’t an option.
There’s some irony in the fact that the worst weather for firefighting is cold weather. But did I complain? Did I moan and groan?
Of course I did. That’s my point.
Now that the winters seem generally milder, I still complain. People who prefer a lot of snow and ice covered lakes complain. A few years ago, when we had an exceptionally cool summer, I complained about that even as some people were complaining it was still too hot. When I win the lottery and move to Hawaii, I’ll probably whine whenever the temperature drops below 70.
The human condition demands we complain about something. The weather is that something we can all agree on – and usually we all agree we don’t like it. That’s much safer than targeting, say, relatives or politics.
On the other hand, maybe we should consider looking at the good side of things, every once in awhile. Just a thought. After all, 50 beats 30, and it can’t stay cold forever.
For those of you on the other side, it can’t stay hot forever, either.