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Pitching in, whatever the weather

“Weather forecast for tonight: dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning.”
— George Carlin, 1937-2008

If you think its butter but it’s not, it’s Chiffon. In that part of my brain that stockpiles all useless trivia, I still remember this commercial from the 1970s that featured Mother Nature getting fooled… and not liking it, so she angrily summoned up some lightning and thunder to make her point. I realize that Oscar Wilde was right on the money when he said, “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” How true. But Wilde was spared the concepts and drama of global warming, doppler radar and the 24/7 Weather Channel. He probably just looked out the window and acted accordingly.

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Today, however, the wrath being unleashed by Mother Nature seems unparalleled. Tsunamis, typhoons, monsoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, dust storms, drought, flash flooding, microbursts, squalls, earthquakes and volcanoes seem as relentless as the seventh plague that God inflicted on the Egyptians. And we are no better at predicting weather now than the Babylonians and Chinese were before Christ. The only thing I can count on most days is my trusty Galileo thermometer and a quick look up at the sky. As they referred to the forensic tools used in the Casey Anthony trial, I have come to believe that weather — meteorology — is no more than junk science. Thunder might as well be angels bowling and the moon made out of cheese because I have had keener predictions from a fortune cookie than I’ve had from any weatherperson pointing out bogus isobars and brightly-colored cold fronts on the green screen while slyly hiding the remote control in the palm of their hand. At the end of every forecast, it’s the same graphic: part of a sun, a cloud and a few drops — all bases sufficiently covered.

We certainly can’t spend our days worrying about the weather, although the regular severity of it concerns me lately. We rarely have a storm that is perfect for a nap or just enough to water the garden anymore without worrying about our sump pumps and carpeting and Christmas decorations floating in the basement or a power outage to complicate matters even further so we could trash the spoiled food that was expensive to buy in the first place. Sunny days are now oppressive, with humidity and a heat index that prompt health warnings; snowfalls require gas-powered equipment and plows instead of brooms and plastic shovels. And all of the above involve insurance and credit cards and time off from work and considerable stress and sleepless nights because predicting is just pure foolishness. Junk science.

There are moments when I truly believe Mother Nature is trying to tell us something or pointing a mean finger at us for abusing the planet. And then, there are other moments when the weather actually brings us together in ways that would have never occurred to us otherwise. Such as these Nolan scholars from Guerin Prep High School in River Grove who recently worked with Habitat for Humanity, the random acts of kindness among neighbors sharing generators and folks checking on the elderly neighbors during this summer’s intense heat. E.B. White wrote: “Weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed.”

About Tina Valentino