Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weather Perspectives

Big snowstorm today. Ice pellets against the sliding door in the bedroom woke me at 3:30 this morning but right now, at one in the afternoon, it's actually snowing harder than ever. If I were in charge of the forecast, I'd be upgrading to blizzard conditions.
But the perfect day for writing a column about the weather!

Dare I? I do dare. It's time to tackle our lost perspective on weather and no better time than for the issue of the newspaper that comes out mid-February, mid-really bad winter.
Although bad is a relative term.
When I was done my first draft of the column, I wandered out of my writing room and down to my mother's room to flop on her bed. That's what I do in order to talk to her. Flop onto her bed.
"I think my best opinion writing happens when I don't get all in -your-face with the opinion," I told her. "When I kinda take the light-hearted, non-confrontational approach. Nothing preachy, that's for sure."
Also means I don't have to fact check.
With the right tone established, I was able to figure out how to have one particular angle on a broad topic. There's lots to talk about when it comes to the weather. I already know what I can write about next February.

A few hours later, as my mother -- in her kind and loving way -- cooked sausages and blueberry pancakes for our snowed-in Sunday lunch, I flipped through the March issue of Chatelaine magazine. The mag has a feature called "Real Life: Behind the Headlines" and this month's features a 30-year-old volunteer from British Columbia who was in the Philippines when Typhoon Haiyan hit.
Oh, yeah, right, that happened, didn't it? Back in November. And devastated the country. Thousands dead. Infrastructure gone. Villages wiped out.
Elaine Springgay tells about how she survived and about the weeks after the typhoon before she returned to Canada. In time for our winter.
I quote the article: "I'm now safely back in Canada, where we recently endured a deep freeze, and many parts of the country suffered power outages. But the use of the word catastrophic by the media and government officials to describe the situation here frustrates me."

Since I wrote -- light-heartedly -- in my column about how we've lost perspective on the weather, I wondered how I could fit this in.
Then I flipped over a few pages to the "Real Life: Bee's Buzz" column by Samantha Bee. She's lamenting about the mid-February blahs and how she thinks it might be better to just go live in a cave until April: "I never remember that the winter blahs are coming until they're inside me, until my mood is as volatile as my skin is sallow."
She took the funny, irreverent route for her column on winter weather. Just as personal as Elaine Springgay but totally different.

I can't rewrite what I've written for my Field Notes column this week but Elaine Springgay's perspective is one I'd like to share with all of those who take the weather personally. IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU, I'd really like to write in my column. I wish I could harangue -- "How can the weather be about you? You think clouds are plotting to ruin your life with a snowstorm?" -- but it's simply not my style.
So I share Elaine's words here: Canadian winters, in all their manifestations, whether mild or cold, whether snowy or green, are not, ever, catastrophic. To spend Christmas without power: Not catastrophic. You didn't count 56 people lying dead along the side of the road the next day as you tried to find a cell phone signal in order to let your family in Canada know you'd survived.
I know you didn't -- because you were all over Twitter and Facebook complaining about the food melting in your freezers.

(Chatelaine does not post stories from its current issue online so unfortunately no link to share).

No comments:

Post a Comment