Although I was not looking forward to the long, late flight home scheduled for tonight, I can’t help but think there was something almost prophetic in the weather that prevented my trip. I awoke in Newark only to confirm with many other stranded passengers that this was not a lot of snow. I’ve had to commute into New York when much higher amounts were in the forecast. Many of us, meteorologists included, were asking why this storm was so devastating to travel. Part of the answer comes down to belief. Nobody believed we could have this kind of nor’easter in November. Even now nobody seems to want to discuss the elephant in the igloo. Global warming, we’ve known for decades, will make erratic weather patterns. We need to think about weather differently than we have before.
One of the motivations behind writing Weathering the Psalms was that for all of our technology, we still don’t understand, or appreciate, the weather. Driven by dollars in great collectives, businesses are reluctant to allow employees a “day off,” even when many of them have work laptops at home. We believe in money, supposing the weather to be only a minor nuisance. Having bought a house, though, has revealed something to me. Home and hearth are all about staying safe from the weather. (Well, and in keeping out wild animals too, but we’ll just drive them extinct.) A house is a place to keep the water and wind out. We want to keep dry and to prevent the wind from chasing away our body heat. Homes are our places to keep the weather outside because we instinctively fear it. Reverence it. Weather may well be the origins of at least some religious thought.
Ancient peoples and modern religious fundamentalists believe(d) in gods literally in the sky. They looked up when wanting to understand matters beyond their control. Yes, predators attacked, but you could fight back. Against the sky there’s no recourse. Weather can kill, and can do so in many ways. Building shelter helps, but we’ve all seen enough hurricane footage to know that even our structures are subject to the wind. Computer models were suggesting that this storm might have been pulling back for a real roundhouse punch but our conservative views on the weather (such things don’t happen in November, right, Edmund Fitzgerald?) prevail. The official stance of our current government is this is all a myth anyway. It’s only when myths interfere with money that we start to pay attention.