I’ve just discovered instant Latte, and am in coffee-heaven-in-my-own-kitchen. So, this morning I invite you to: open sachet at one end (do they really have to say that?), tip contents into cup (or that?), add hot-but-not-boiling water, stir well, and enjoy - while I talk about the weather.
Having ventured forth with our tent several times this year, the children and I have been closer than usual to the weather, and the unavoidable effect it can have on our lives. So far we've spent a rainy week in Cornwall, a mixed weekend in Kent, and a long weekend in Wiltshire, during which we were blessed with weather so idyllic I might have been persuaded to believe that I could spend my whole life under canvas.
And so, it occurred to me that we read about characters feeling the sun on their faces, the wind in the hair and the chill in their bones… but what else? Sometimes, the weather is integral to a story, as in Lionel Davidson’s Kolomsky Heights (where it never gets above -40C), or Desmond Bagley’s Flyaway (where it never gets below +40C); but more often, it seems that watching the-rain-sliding-down-the-window (or whatever) is little more than something for a character to do when he’s bored with inspecting his fingernails.
Perhaps I’m just a weather-nerd. Perhaps it shouldn’t really feature in fiction. Hell, it features enough in real life, so who wants to read about it too? Or write about it? And to do it justice, wouldn’t characters have to start every conversation with, “Ooo, turned out nice again?” or, “It’s supposed to be better tomorrow.” No, even I'm not that interested, but I do like seeing well-written weather.
But I wonder if we just filter it out a bit, and thus lose the experience of it. I’m not meaning the sun-on-face/wind-in-hair thing, but its more abstract effects on the person: the suffering caused by stepping in a puddle, and having one foot wet all day (when the other is dry); or being kept awake by a wind that repeatedly lifts the door knocker (and lets it go again); or the pain of thawing fingers, chilled lungs, or sunburn? When was the last time you read about a character with sunburn? (Not including chick-lit!)
So, what’s the weather like with you this morning/evening, and would you like to see more of it? Or not?