Image of Colorado Thunder Storm at Sunset. Bright pink and orange clouds.

In Defense of: Talking about the weather

Talking about the weather always gets that classic unbearable “small talk” label. I’ve felt it. Just knowing the first thing out of someone’s mouth will be “It’s so hot” or “Ugh, the rain. I hope it doesn’t ruin such and such a plan” and then in Colorado (Arizona? California? Everywhere?) someone always responds with, “Yeah, but we need the moisture.” And someone else, seemingly out of nowhere says, “global warming” and it’s just painfully trite. But talking about the weather doesn’t have to be small talk. My argument is the weather is AMAZING, it’s personal, and it’s communal. It relates to our hopes and dreams, our fears, our failures. To florists, to gardeners, to farmers, to roofers (I’ve learned), and to Venezuelan immigrants. The weather reminds us that we’re interconnected by something larger than us, and out of our own control. So, let’s talk about it. 

I have an experience during rain and hail storms that I wonder if anyone else has. I’m a bit of a catastrophizer, so if the storm continues heavily for more than about 20 minutes, I get a primitive instinct to start praying and confessing sins, pleading with the gods who need appeasing. I start to see (or imagine) the damage—fallen branches, flooded basements, and I wonder if it will ever stop. So I begin to imagine my house, our roof caves in, my house floats away, all my possessions are lost and I regret spending SO MUCH TIME futzing and fixing my house, because now it’s gone. Insurance doesn’t value my sweat equity. I didn’t take photos of all of our belongings. We have to move to another state. (It’s not like this never happens to people!) Does anyone else’s mind go to these places, too?

My family and I were at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park in early June, and we were taking an afternoon walk, when a storm began moving in on us. It was incredible. First I noticed the mountains, the light flashing on them in purples and blues. The sky darkened like a show was about to start. It was so close to me I felt like I could reach out and part the clouds myself. Then the electricity in the air became palpable, and the deer perked up and expedited to the woods. I watched a small crowd frantically exit the pool house nearby (lightning risk) and run toward better cover, as we excitedly joined them in one of the shared camp buildings, the rain quickly expanding into a heavy downfall. A group of strangers and friends gathered, half wet, looking out the windows. I had a unified, collective feeling with us all cozy indoors, sharing the same experience together and watching. The rain and thunder was too loud on the roof for chit chat, as it began to morph back and forth from water to ice. The hail skipped as it hit the ground and built up on the grass into a thick layer of white. It looked like snow in the wrong season. And in less than fifteen minutes, it was over. The sun peaked out, and we returned back to our normal life. Weather is amazing.

 While the rest of the country has been heating up, Colorado has been getting drenched (and cooled) almost every afternoon or evening, unlike we’ve ever seen before. Some of our flowers are HUGE, without a hefty water bill to go with it. Our tomatoes are smaller than usual (they like sun and heat). Our xeric plants are confused. Our invasive species are having the year of their life. The mosquitos are thriving. My bread is molding faster. My chips are already stale. 

I have several friends in roofing who hadn’t seen a hail storm in four years. Their businesses were wilting. We’ve had at least nine hail storms this year already. Now, they are drowning in work. The news told us that people were hurt from hail at a Red Rocks concert. The next day, we got a weather alert text warning of baseball sized hail and to seek shelter. That was a moment. Do you want to be in your car if there is baseball sized hail falling from the sky? Sounds like the apocalypse to me. Are your pets indoors? How is the shelter at the kids’ summer camp? The baseball sized hail never came. But oh, our dear Brittany… Instead, the marble sized hail perfectly conspired to run off her shed and decimate her garden—and I mean decimate—her first love, her pride and joy, her number one BAE. She cried the whole weekend. She’s not a crier.  

Denver had four thousand Venezuelan immigrants arrive this past winter. One Sunday in mid December, a group of about sixty of them showed up at my church looking for resources and assistance. So we tried to help. Some of my friends found them work shoveling snow at the airport in the middle of the night. We scrambled to get them warm layers, coats, and work boots, as many had no possessions other than what they were wearing. It was a record negative fifteen degrees that night, and they worked outside for eight grueling hours. Do you think they were ready for those temperatures? I am not, and I live here. 

The weather is so personal that I got an ad from an underwear company recently offering tips for “beating the heat,” and suggesting to change your undies three times a day. My mind was blown, but yeah. The weather and vaginal health. That’s how we’re all really doing. Barbie is fine.

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