Have you had it with the constant, unrelenting weather reports that sound more like John Grisham novels than weather reports? Me too. This week, I shared my thoughts on GardenRant (where one should share Rants after all), but share them here too on a Friday afternoon.
Weather forecasting is good. Weather fear porn is not. – MW
There is nothing quite so tender as the sight of a grey, ice-locked landscape melting into warm browns during a winter respite. I am struck by the beauty of it all this morning, and deeply thankful I live in a climate with strongly definable seasons (despite the slipping and sliding we have done over the last three weeks). We are able to experience the thrill of welcoming 40F (5C) as if it is an old friend we had forgotten we loved – knowing she will leave again before the spring comes.
Meanwhile, on news channels, from the middle of the road, to the far-left to the far-right – all can agree that the next Winter Storm [insert name] is the worst in X years, and will catastrophically affect every creature unfortunate enough to live in a climate north of the equator.
It is to their credit that they at least spare us the daily weather concerns of the southern hemisphere.
Everyone’s news. All the time.
It does not matter if you live 3000 miles away in the Pacific Northwest – or if you access the internet from a little cottage in Guernsey. You will still know of this storm, you will still be frightened by it, what it could mean, what it portends for mankind and the future of us all.
It will add to your vague life-unease as you are regaled with weather records by sculpted talking heads and chests that gravely state “coldest temperature in [insert current month] since [insert date in last twenty years]” and which expect us all to quiver and shake against the terror of it all. And click again for more terror.
Enough. I am sick to the teeth of it.
What is the purpose?
Ask yourself that. To keep us in a constant sense of unease? Our nerves are already strung to breaking point, our daily lives disrupted, our friendships and communities frayed and battered by a lack of face-to-face contact.
We are fragile, and searching for stability. We are unsure. We are unsure of each other. An email from a dear, always optimistic friend in Wales yesterday after many months silent says “It has all been so mad for the last 2 years, and I wonder if I will have any friends left when we finally are free to do what we want, when we want to. All the negotiations about people’s fears, and rules of connection, and yap about it, have driven me to nearly losing my sense of humour.”
Yet we must be frightened…made more vulnerable and unsure. After all, frightened people are hungry for more news [read: they click more]. Those that believe in global conspiracies forget that news organizations act first for ratings. That the telling of the story – whether political or meteorological – may be detrimental to the long term mental health of its audience is of little concern when ratings are paramount.
Just. Report. The. Damn. Weather.
Temperature, precipitation, visibility – add 50 words of puerile commentary if you must. Is a tornado in my vicinity? Thank you for telling me – we’ll do all we can. Is a hurricane expected? Give us a category and projected path. Flash flooding? I’m thankful for the heads up. It’s a damn sight more than farmers and gardeners had 150 years ago living lives much closer to the bone than we. Without electricity.
Things were [always] better when…
I live in a climate that expects winter. Or at least we used to. I moved here 20 years ago knowing that. I regularly hear Mid-Atlantic natives reminiscing that in the old days they were always sledding in the winter and there were ice floes on the Potomac, and they would skate with friends until their mothers caught them.
If there were ice floes on the Potomac, then I can guarantee that it was freaking cold.
That we’d probably had a storm. Perhaps several. That it had cut off roads, and caused accidents and created chaos. Some people may have lost their lives. And that’s winter. It’s why billions of people living in cold climates have dreaded it for thousands of years. It’s why they got stores in, and kept pantries, and gulped deeply when the harvest didn’t come in as expected.
It’s why they greeted spring with such deep and overwhelming joy. It’s why there were May Poles.
If you have never read the poet Robert Frost, I urge you to remember or experience winter through his words. Every gardener living in a cold winter climate should have some paperback Frost collection laying within arm’s reach in the morning.
Gently step away from the device filled with infinite scrolling feeds by CNN, FOX, MSNBC, Facebook, The Daily Mail, The NYT, The New York Post, et bloody al. and find one of his poems written in winter. Take some time to absorb that which does not need to be said to be understood.
Frost did not pen “Man and Horse Desperate for Shelter Travel for Hours in Deep Drifts, Miles From Help”
Winter is hard. Winter is also beautiful. We must both bear it and be blessed by it.
Trying to Play Both Sides of the Fence
Cause, here’s the thing. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t complain that we don’t have real winters anymore and then lose your ever loving mind when a storm dumps 18 inches in 24 hours. In summer, when they’re telling us that we’re about to experience a horrific, historical and deadly heat wave that will best all heat waves and all records (even if it is only by a tenth of a percent) and that life is over, they can’t ignore two years of long cool springs that make the spirit sing.
Yes, the climate is changing. Some seasons it does so with a slap, some seasons with a tickle. Many of us are scrambling to keep pace with the change and adapt our gardening practices and life choices. Some of us have experienced some degree of devastation brought on by weather events, and we have been laid low, and we have stood up again. But the more we allow ourselves to be assailed with unrelenting fear-porn – the more the weather is reported by terrified children and not mature adults – the more we feel helpless and lost in a constant state of anxiety.
Fearful people no longer believe in the human spirit to adapt, innovate, overcome, and grow.
Lose the fear porn. It’s winter. Let’s treat it like the adults we are.
You’re wonderful. I love reading your thoughts. Please keep it up.
Thank you Amanda – very kind. – MW
Perfectly sensible thinking and thanks for putting it in writing!
The thoughts feel almost heretical at this point, the way our news cycle runs; but it is gratifying to hear that others share my views on this. Thanks for commenting! – MW
Thank you! The ridiculous hype over every storm is tiring. Names used to be reserved for hurricanes. Now every storm, no matter the magnitude, has one. And what on earth is a polar vortex or heat dome?
Naming these storms gives them a place in our imagination they would not otherwise occupy. It’s clever, but it’s wrong. We were just fine when winter storms were winter storms and only the hurricanes got christened. thanks for commenting Laurie Ann – MW
Hear!hear! In the UK,there’s a happy -clappy note that accompanies the fear porn in a bizarre contrast. Thus, “freezing winds from the North with weather warnings for ice,but bright sunshine once the frost melts” .
Trouble is,they’re so delighted with the sunshine,they miss the drought.
Thank you for the British perspective. At least they give you a little glimmer of hope…something. Here it is the end of the world, no going back, life is so over. (But definitely buy more toilet paper and bread, cause you’ll need it if you survive. 🙂 ) -MW
Agreed! Stopped listening to weather hysteria years ago. Weather apps lack the panic and fear mongering.
Thankful for my weather app – and the ability to check radar if something is concerning me. – MW
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your common sense approach to the weather hype. They talk so much about the weather that it is meaningless anymore. I walk out the door, look at the sky and make a reasonable prediction.
What?!?!?! You don’t wait to be told what to think about what you’re experiencing. Very odd. 🙂 – MW
Hi Marianne, It was interesting to note that they day after the news reported on massive winter storm in New England — ‘The storm, which unloaded heavy snow and ice from New Mexico to Maine, snarled traffic and canceled thousands of flights’ — my grandkids called this morning to video chat and share the video of them sledding in the backyard in 10° temperatures. As you say the weather is very dependent on perceptions… — jw
Isn’t that true with so much John? A bad day could equally be a good day depending on one’s mood in the morning. A lesson I am constantly trying to learn. – MW
You are right on the money with this. Hype Hype Hype and not just weather but seems like everything else. Like Sara…I step outside and bingo…weather.
Couldn’t agree more. And, sadly, the hype is not limited to weather news. I have wished that one news/weather station would try for one month to just give us the facts, emphasize the positive over the negative, and generally encourage viewers to “be calm and carry on” and then see what happened to their ratings.