Tangled up in blue

You can’t tell the weather what to do

Alison Rood is SN&R’s foothills correspondent, still from the wrong side of the tracks.

When I heard the song “Grey in L.A.” at the end of the film Knocked Up, I flipped. Here was Loudon Wainwright III lamenting blue skies and celebrating rain, especially the sound of rain on his “carport made out of tin.” What a refreshing idea!

Rain is a complete annoyance to most people I know, especially exercise enthusiasts who rank the importance of their daily jog above life-sustaining water falling from the sky. But one glance at the season’s rainfall totals and it’s obvious that weather isn’t interfering with too many jogging rituals. As winter ended, we were two inches below normal. Not good, considering last season’s paltry 11.95 inches.

Since I don’t watch TV forecasters, I don’t know if they’ve begun panicking. They typically encourage a negative impression of rain by applying the word “threat” to their predictions, as if it’s their job to deliver blue skies. “Sorry folks,” they apologize, “it looks like there’s a threat of rain this weekend.”

Still, I don’t enjoy a rainy day simply for the sake of that lovely pattering sound or because I know the rain is filling reservoirs, quenching my garden’s thirst and giving wildlife a drink.

I like weather because it’s practically the only thing human beings can’t manipulate or destroy. We can’t bulldoze, strip mine or clear-cut it. We can’t drill for oil on it or leak oil into it. We can’t feed it a crock of lies.

We can’t force weather to fight, either: It’s not a pit bull, a military recruit or a kid tormented by a schoolyard bully. It can’t be slaughtered for food, tempted to lose thousands of dollars in a casino or become brain-dead after hours of video games. We can’t preach to weather and insist it had better believe as we say for fear of hell. Weather pledges allegiance to no one, with nary a hint of guilt.

Watch clouds drift lazily past. No one can murder them for fur, force them to perform circus tricks or stick them behind bars and charge admission. Weather goes its own way, yet we must acknowledge it. We base our attire, our activities and sometimes our life decisions on what the weather dishes out.

Unfortunately, not everyone understands that we can’t boss weather around. Those with a financial interest in land development thumb their noses at weather, even if the terrain they’re greedily scrutinizing is a steep hillside prone to mudslides or low-lying land susceptible to flooding.

Still, weather has its faults. Vacillation, for one, which is not unlike a certain presidential candidate who previously went on record denouncing abusive interrogation techniques only to flip-flop during his election campaign. Similarly, we may find ourselves anticipating much-needed drought relief from a promising storm system, only to watch the rain ultimately head north. Weather isn’t above committing a little water torture on occasion.

No doubt about it, given our current rainfall totals, Loudon Wainwright said it best: “I don’t know about you / I get so sick of blue skies / whenever they always appear.”