The weather is something we like to think is trivial. We’ve got more important things to do than worry about it. Yet even our most important ways of dealing with life’s issues have to take the humble weather into account. The fact that I was awoken by a thunderstorm at around 1:30, and, given my schedule, thus began my day, perhaps has something to do with it. And perhaps so does a conversation I overheard on a trip to Ithaca. Now, upstate New York isn’t known for its cooperative weather. In fact, the alma mater of Binghamton University includes the phrase “ever-changing skies.” I was in a public place and a conversation was being had between two men who were strangers to me. My ears perked up when I realized they were discussing higher education.
This should surprise none of my regular readers. Higher education has been the stand-offish lover in my life. In any case, as one guy was explaining to the other, he worked at Cornell University—one of the Ivy League schools—and he opined that the reason it had trouble recruiting faculty was, well, the weather. Now, I’m one to sometimes take weather personally. (I’m still wondering what the point of last night’s thunderstorm was. Anything that wakes me after midnight essentially personally ends my night’s sleep.) In any case, being one of those under-employed academics I had to think about this. I’d be glad for a university post—would I turn one down because of the weather? Is meteorological preference really that strong? Especially since in polite conversation the weather is considered the shallowest of topics.
Weather is vitally important. Perhaps because of its ubiquity we tend to overlook it. Think about rain on a wedding day. Or a moving day. In the latter case it can be more than inconvenient. Sports events can be cancelled due to weather (baseball is especially prone to this). Extreme weather (which is becoming more common) can shut everything down. Is is just me, or does every thunderstorm now come with a “severe” warning attached? Weather is more than just inconvenient; our lives depend upon it. Thoughts not unrelated to these were in my mind as I wrote Weathering the Psalms. I’ve only ever lived in rainy climates. I realize many others aren’t nearly so lucky. The drought in our western states is troubling. Perhaps higher education might be able to rise above it? Or will the most educated turn down jobs because of the inconvenience of ever-changing skies?