I think it’s in “That Hideous Strength” that CS Lewis introduces a couple who share a liking for “weather” – not “good” weather, but weather in general. What sensible people, and of course they’re British. In similar vein, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s book “The Victorians” comments on Prince Albert’s early days in this country: “he disliked, as some visitors do, the generally delightful British climate.”
Politically, J R-M and I are poles apart, but I agree with him about the delightfulness of the British climate – temperate, changeable and unpredictable as it gloriously is.
It is temperate. How fortunate we are! We don’t usually burn, freeze or parch. Gardening, farming, hiking, camping and outdoor sport to participate in and spectate: we take all these things for granted, for two-thirds of the year. The grass is green. The trees are plentiful and many are deciduous, giving us at least three stages of beauty, and ending up with autumn leaves to scrunch.
It is both changeable and unpredictable (not quite the same thing.) Of course this has its disadvantages: wet Bank Holidays and weddings, seeds planted just before a late frost etc, Rain Stopped Play, never knowing how thick a coat or jumper you’ll need.
But really it’s not that difficult: in summer assume you need a jumper unless it’s obvious you don’t; in winter assume a coat and gloves ditto.
I’m sure there are many people who want to wake up in the morning every day knowing what the weather will be like. I’m not one of them.
As one gets older, some of the following pleasures may fade:
- Stomping through puddles in waterproof boots
- Singing in the rain
- Pushing against a fresh wind, as the mental cobwebs are blown away
- Spotting a rainbow exactly where it should be – or noticing one by accident
- Watching washing dance on the line
- The unique soft crunch of stepping into fresh snow
- Snuggling down with a book and a cup of tea, while the rain lashes against the window
- Watching the shapes and movements of clouds
- Tracing the lines of frost on a leaf or a spider’s web
- Picnicking in the sunshine
- And yes, occasionally, sitting on a beach without a jumper and still, amazingly, being warm
But they are all pleasures; all weather-related.
You may object that some of these are best experienced from indoors, and this is true. As Richard Adams says in “Watership Down”: “many human beings say that they enjoy the winter, but what they really enjoy is feeling proof against it.” Yes, indeed, but how enjoyable it is: cradling the hands round a mug of hot tea; hearing the windows rattle; snuggling under the duvet. In the days before central heating, sitting as close to the gas fire as possible, or even on top of the Aga lid (we had an old-fashioned kitchen.)
Yes, we have a lot of damp chilly days. (Some languages may have many words for snow; we have a lot of words and phrases for rain, from “spitting” to “the heavens opened.”) But there’s often a varied light-and-cloud show even then. And it very very rarely rains all day.
Complaining, or commenting, on it is a basic conversational staple, convenient for any two or more people who are in the same place – hence non-controversial and democratic.
(It occurs to me to wonder if this is always good. If someone says “lovely day,” or “horrible day,” does one ever dare to disagree? Is it even rude to reply, “Well, actually I like the rain/it’s too hot for me”?)
There are people who for genuine reasons of health don’t do well with our cold damp winters. There are others who suffer very seriously from the darkness that creeps over more and more of the day in winter.
But I’m afraid I’m the smarmy person who (on the whole!) pretty much likes it all.
Love from the PPI Blogger