“Harry b’y, everything is changing,” I’ve been informed by men more astute than I.
Especially regarding climate change and unpredictable weather patterns, folks nod sagely and accept that global warming is a villain.
For frig sake, The News employs a new breed of animated meteorologists to enthusiastically inform viewers — over and over and over — that tomorrow’s future-cast [!] augurs rain, or possibly snow, or both. And, oh yes, there could be wind … or not.
For certain, 24 hours later, when the future-cast has become the past, all hands know what the weather has been.
However, long before weather warriors — worriers? — were whistling global warming, my Gran’Pappy was a weather prophet beyond compare.
Beyond compare! That’s a lie. Your gran’pappy was prob’ly just as skilled.
At sunset, Grand’Pappy sat in his chair smoking a Camel cigarette and gazing across the cove through the kitchen window studying the western sky.
“Be weather come daylight,” he’d say, rising, stepping to the wall and tapping the face of the barometer hanging from a nail.
“A-uh, come daylight.”
Of course, come daylight there was weather, inclement conditions in the lower portions of the local atmosphere.
Gran’Pappy didn’t need a weatherman. Although, he religiously listened to the DOSCO news to hear the forecaster agree with his predictions.
“Harry b’y, winters are getting colder since they invented that wind chill,” say the sages.
During my formative teenage years I lived in western Labrador where winters were definitely cold. In the frosty air exhausts from home furnaces and outdoor machinery rose straight up from chimneys and pipes. Sometimes, if they weren’t sufficiently protected inside woolen hats, folks’ ears froze, snapped off like icicles, and shattered on the ground. Tinkle, tinkle, tinkle.
There was an outdoor skating rink near the high school. In those days, before the advent of wind chill, if the temperature dropped to 20 degrees below Fahrenheit — Yes, Farhrenheit. Celsius had not yet been adopted— skaters knew not to exert themselves on the ice for fear of freezing their lungs.
Didn’t need a weatherman to know that.
Of course, there was no fear of me freezing my lungs inside the school in the library.
“Harry, my prevaricating love, you didn’t spend much time in the library, I’m sure. More likely, after school you went straight home hoping for cookies.
Ah, Dearest Duck’s hand lodged on my shoulder. I thought she was shopping and I was home-free in my quest for honesty in snippets of memoir.
“You’re back early, my Duck.”
Okay, back on track.
Nowadays, weathermen have computers and such to help them predicted the future. They have graphics and models, whatever they are, to display colourful digital … well, maps, I s’pose on television.
And get this, to enhance, to further mystify the flim-flam of weather forecasting, meteorologists have unleashed a snaking upper atmosphere entity akin to some mythological sky serpent — the Jet Stream.
Apparently, the Jet Stream coils around the planet’s ears stirring up the weather like Granny stirring soup.
Gran’Pappy knew naught about the Jet Stream. In his day it was still hibernating, I s’pose.
“Sun dogs,” Gran’Pappy said. “Dirt by dinnertime tomorrow.”
“What, my Duck?”
I ask you, after the matrimonial glow had faded, did Anne Hathaway interrupt young Billy Shakespeare so?
Gran’Pappy has long since gone to live with Jesus and has missed most of these newfangled methods of weather forecasting. But I suspect he was aware of the impending introduction of Celsius because he once said to me, “There’s change coming, my son. Things are going to freeze at zero and when it’s thirty degrees outside ‘twill be too hot to live.”
P’raps it’s a good thing Gran’Pappy didn’t get to meet the Jet Stream’s aquatic cousins, El Nino and La Nina. He would have seen their existence as reason enough to haul up his boat and call ‘er quits.
And now in the winter of 2014 a brand new weather beastie has been born. It sits on the polar cap like a five-fingered starfish and, at its whim, decides to twist its frozen fingers into sub-arctic climes and freeze the bejabbers out of all and sundry.
Beware the Polar Vortex.
Polar Vortex! Don’t need a weatherman to know what that’s a load of, eh b’ys?
Thank you for reading.
— Harold Walters lives Happily Ever After in Dunville, in the only Canadian province with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org