On My Weather Obsession

In 2 1/2 years of living in Central Texas, I’m still in awe of the weather, the heat of the summer, the mildness of the winter. I suspect that as a native Minnesotan, as someone who lived there for 27 years, I will for many years more remain in awe of the weather here. This afternoon, it will nearly reach 70 degrees. It was over 70 yesterday. Blue skies and those high wispy clouds that I love but cannot name.

Yesterday afternoon, I sat in my backyard, prepping for the next session of the poetry class I teach. I was reading chapters from my textbooks, reading my students’ first poems, and jotting down details for a poem of my own. This afternoon I will sit outside and read from a long novel I’m enjoying very much: Larry Woiwode’s Beyond the Bedroom Wall. Later, I will take my son out to play disc golf. And tomorrow afternoon (again a forecast of blue skies and 70), we’ll take a family trip to the zoo.

All of this in mid-January.

It feels as though I’m living in some kind of fantasy world, my memories of unseasonably warm days renewed by the reality of days not that far removed from the norm for this part of the state. (Average January high here: 57.)  Average January temperature in my MN hometown? 24. Average January temperature in the Northwestern MN town where I completed my M.F.A.? 18.

One of several recurring elements in my poetry, fiction, and nonfiction is weather. As I joke (though it’s true), the wind is always blowing in my poems, stories, and essays, the weather is always present doing something. I’m a weather junkie, have always been fascinated by it, the unseasonably warm days in winter, the unseasonably cool days in summer, the data, the storms (whether they involve snow, ice, rain, wind, etc.). After all, as an undergrad in college, I used to leave The Weather Channel on in my room while I studied or did schoolwork.

I doubt I’ll ever lose my weather fixation, and so it will continue to manifest itself in my creative works, even as a breeze ruffles the pages in my open notebook. Now to head outside and make the most of the afternoon.

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