talk to me about the weather

When I was a callow youth, a period of uncertain beginning and dubious ending, if all you could talk about was the weather, you had my sympathy. (Possibly you also had my barely concealed disdain as well as sympathy. I was that callow.) Weather conversation was a fallback adults used to avoid discussing all the unpleasant things their jobs and kids were doing to them and/or betrayed a woeful lack of imagination. Now I think and talk about the weather constantly, and not just my own local weather but, for example, the disastrous state of the Mid West’s corn crop from drought and the unprecedented heat in the continental and eastern U.S.


Since my middle-age years have no resemblance whatsoever to the same period in my parents’ lives, or so I like to believe (just as they once liked to believe), I chalk this weather fixation up to the Internet and its plethora of garden blogs and forums. There are so many more stick pins on my map of people and places to wonder and worry about, mainly due to the gardens I’ve come to know via the Internet. This summer I’ve got a corn crop of my own, if a crop can be had with just three plants, all from seed Nan Ondra generously offered for SASE last fall. (Zea mays ‘Tiger Cub.’) I won’t be eating this corn. It’s grown for those beautifully variegated leaves, not the cobs. Making a garden is often typecast as an escapist, tra-la-la pursuit, and there is thankfully plenty of tra-la-la to be had, but the more I learn about gardens, the more I sense that they are also outposts where the sky and land are vigilantly scanned by the sentry on duty, who is the first to note when the fruit trees’ crop is ruined by a freakishly late cold snap after being cajoled into early growth by an unseasonably mild winter. Reading the reports of the many sentries on duty, I’m coming to the sobering, middle-aged realization that weather talk is not just idle chatter anymore.

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12 Responses to talk to me about the weather

  1. Jason says:

    You’re expressing thoughts I’ve had frequently this summer. Honestly, I do my blog as a way to focus on things I enjoy and not brood on the state of the world. Unfortunately, the state of the world keeps intruding, even in the garden. I’m sure some people won’t like reading this, but there really is a scientific consensus that climate change caused by human activity is a fact. The few who disagree are outliers. Sadly, the influence of certain special interests and ideological zealots prevents this country from even trying to adopt a serious strategy to deal with this crisis. It’s very disturbing.

  2. Denise says:

    Jason, thanks so much for commenting — you absolutely nailed the dilemma of how much to “share” on a blog. Glad to have another Illinois blog to read!

  3. Do you think that weather talk is not just idle chatter anymore because the weather is so different now… or do you think that it’s not idle chatter anymore because we’re older, and/or because we know so much about what else is going on with other people’s weather? (This is somewhat of a rhetorical question, in a way… but I often wonder.)

  4. By the way, I keep meaning to tell you that your “Confirm you are NOT a spammer” checkbox always makes me smile. Love that approach. 🙂

  5. ks says:

    I worked in a garden center in my 20’s so weather awareness is built in. However at the most I got sent home a day or two if it rained ; there was nothing catastrophic involved. For people like Brenda for example, their livelihood depends on reliable weather patterns–imagine if your entire salary for a year was wiped out. And then there is the subsidy issue-a topic I really know nothing about, but can’t help but wonder who is protected and who is not ? Here in the Napa Valley the ‘farmers’ are typically very wealthy , and irrigation and frost protection are installed as a matter of course.Frost is a bigger threat than drought –drought is the way we live.

  6. This topic makes my heart beat faster. I could talk about weather for hours but nobody around me seems to get it except for my family. My dad is a weather geek and my 13 yr old nephew asked for a weather station for his birthday. It’s in the genes…

  7. Delphine says:

    My english is too bad to chat with you all, dear gardeners from all over the United States.
    But if someone care for this information, we have no summer at all in Paris. It is cold, grey and rainy like in november.

  8. Deanne says:

    Well, interestingly enough, I never heard my parents discuss the weather but that’s another story. I on the other hand have always been a weather geek. Years ago, when the weather channel began showing dopplar radar of T storms moving in I used to avidly look at the radar then run outside to see it in person. Totally hooked. I haven’t yet gotten a smart phone so I can have a hand held weather radar unit. Notice I didn’t say get a smart phone to make phone calls. I rarely use my cell phone but oh the lure of having a portable weather radar.

  9. Sue says:

    Yes, weather has become a most compelling topic. Just about every night weather related devastation headlines the news. You don’t need to be a scientist to see that something bad is happening behind the scenes. It’s unsettling to say the least.

  10. Denise says:

    @Kim, I think our sphere of concern has grown so much larger now and become personalized by all the first-person accounts, which is good news. And Jason pretty much sums up why I think it’s not idle chatter anymore. And I had NO idea what my anti-spamming tactics were, so thanks!
    @Kathy, and the corn farmers have crop insurance too.
    @Loree, I am in awe of how gardeners like you, Deanne and Sue play your weather like a fiddle!
    @Delphine, yes, we care for any information from you and Paris! I was so sad to learn of your losing another cat, and in the middle of a cold summer too. Sending as much warmth your way as I can.
    @Deanne, now I’ll always see you striding through your garden, the radar unit strapped to your side!
    @Sue, the record-breaking events really seem to be piling up. And I seem to remember a record-breaking, zone-defying Musa basjoo too…which is the topic for another thread, how gardeners are some of the most adaptive people around.

  11. Rachelle says:

    Weather talk is in my genes as well, but I can’t help but think many people are still very disconnected to what unusual weather might mean. Sometimes it surprises even me. Here in central WI with virtually no rainfall for over a month, a very warm March, a hard and late freeze in April, and over ten days in a row of near 100-degree or over temps; it seems many crops are in trouble. I always tell myself this area is just a small piece of the country and there will be plenty of good harvests of other things in other parts of our country, but this year I am not so sure. Not every vegetable field has a big walk-around watering system. If you are under an misguided impression that food prices “can’t” jump 300% here in the USA, like they sometimes seem to do in Asia or the Middle East, or there might not be one thing, but there are other things, you are naive.

  12. Hoov says:

    What beautiful foliage! Last year we grew edible corn. It was delicious, but skipped it this year.

    Speaking of weather, am I the only one completely bummed about the complete trashing of The Weather Channel? I used to find the constant updates such soothing background noise. Now, cut-rate documentaries and Al Roker. All good things must pass.

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