“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces up, snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” – John Ruskin
I am apparently not immune from turning into my parents.
Neither of my parents grew up in the age of television but once cable television arrived in their adult years they agreed on a favorite hangout: The Weather Channel. Now boys and girls this was back in the day when The Weather Channel spent most of its time reporting on the weather and therefore before tantalizing shows with titles like “Natural Born Monsters” and “Storm Riders” and “Weather Geeks.” No, it was pretty much all-day weather forecasts and updates, and for the life of me I could not understand why my parents would care about dew points and barometric pressure and precipitation levels. I preferred going outside where there was actual weather to analyzing the hourly forecast.
Now, it is me. No, the background noise of my life is not The Weather Channel. What I do is check the weather on my iPhone a million times each day. Hot or cold, sunshine or rain, calm or wind—I suddenly seem to care.
Our move to The South is partly to blame for the marked increase in said weather-checking because Southern California weather is, in a word, predictable, while Tennessee weather is anything but. I knew this in my little brain before arriving, having spent the first three decades of my life in similar conditions, but coastal living for the past two decades created a form of amnesia that I am working to overcome.
So maybe it is simply that I now need to know when to carry an umbrella. But maybe I am learning to care more about the beauty of our natural world?
Today is Earth Day, an annual day to draw our attention to nature and remember our collective responsibility to take good care of this planet we call home. Earth Day began the year I was born, and although much good work has occurred in my lifetime, it is apparent that revolutionary action is required to provide the care necessary for sustaining this big, beautiful world. I want to care more about that and care less about things far less important.
I grew up caring primarily about sports. And then I grew interested in the news. And now I prefer the weather. It could be that I am finally growing up.
Mother Nature cleared her throat this week and shut down several roads leading to our life here in sunny (once again) Malibu. My wife and I apparently collect natural disasters, starting with Arkansas tornadoes and ice storms, continuing with Gulf Coast floods and hurricanes, and now that we’ve hit the jackpot, California drought, earthquakes, wildfires, and mudslides. We just need a blizzard, tsunami, and volcano to complete the set. Stockpiling seashells sounds significantly safer (sweet sentence!), but since an ice storm played a major role in the early days of our relationship, I guess the disaster collection is appropriate.
Jody and I met on New Year’s Day 1994 at a high school basketball tournament in Jonesboro, Arkansas. I was there as a high school basketball coach, and she was there, according to her own rendition, in part to meet me. You can picture me there at a guardrail in the arena, standing by myself, watching basketball, unsuspecting, when this beautiful young woman innocently (ha!) walks up to introduce herself. I never knew what hit me that night, but it turned out to be love.
I didn’t have much of a chance according to the Vegas oddsmakers given my dating record yet somehow didn’t mess things up right away. We talked through several basketball games that night, followed by a trip to Steak ‘n Shake since we weren’t particularly ready to stop the conversation. We subsequently went on a date or two in January and could sense that something special was in the works. And then came the infamous ice storm of 1994, a disaster that The Weather Channel ranked as #2 in their list of the “Nation’s Worst Ice Storms.”
Best. Disaster. Ever.
Classes at my school were canceled for what seemed like forever. Jody’s work was not canceled, but since she lived about a forty-five minute drive away on super treacherous roads, she stayed close by at a friend’s apartment throughout the ice storm. Over the course of that week or two we had the equivalent of a year or so of dating. At least that’s what we tell ourselves since we were engaged a month later and married by May.
Jody and I have seen a natural disaster or two along the way, and living in California we can count on encountering more. But we’ve also seen some pretty amazing things emerge “naturally” from both natural and unnatural disasters, and the past twenty-three years of my life is the best evidence of all.
Posted in Original Essays
Tagged 1994 ice storm, arkansas, california, disasters, jonesboro, love, mother nature, opportunity, phoenix, socal, steak 'n shake, the weather channel