Don’t need a weath­er­man

The Compass - - OPINION -

“Harry b’y, ev­ery­thing is chang­ing,” I’ve been in­formed by men more as­tute than I.

Es­pe­cially re­gard­ing cli­mate change and un­pre­dictable weather pat­terns, folks nod sagely and ac­cept that global warm­ing is a vil­lain.

For frig sake, The News em­ploys a new breed of an­i­mated me­te­o­rol­o­gists to en­thu­si­as­ti­cally in­form view­ers — over and over and over — that to­mor­row’s fu­ture-cast au­gurs rain, or pos­si­bly snow, or both. And, oh yes, there could be wind … or not.

For cer­tain, 24 hours later, when the fu­ture-cast has be­come the past, all hands know what the weather has been.

How­ever, long be­fore weather war­riors — wor­ri­ers? — were whistling global warm­ing, my Gran’Pappy was a weather prophet be­yond com­pare.

Be­yond com­pare! That’s a lie. Your gran’pappy was prob’ly just as skilled.

At sun­set, Grand’Pappy sat in his chair smok­ing a Camel cig­a­rette and gaz­ing across the cove through the kitchen win­dow study­ing the western sky.

“Be weather come day­light,” he’d say, ris­ing, step­ping to the wall and tap­ping the face of the barom­e­ter hang­ing from a nail. “A-uh, come day­light.” Of course, come day­light there was weather, in­clement con­di­tions in the lower por­tions of the lo­cal at­mos­phere.

Gran’Pappy didn’t need a weath­er­man. Al­though, he re­li­giously lis­tened to the DOSCO news to hear the fore­caster agree with his pre­dic­tions.

“Harry b’y, winters are get­ting colder since they in­vented that wind chill,” say the sages. Prob’ly true. Dur­ing my for­ma­tive teenage years I lived in western Labrador where winters were def­i­nitely cold. In the frosty air ex­hausts from home fur- naces and out­door ma­chin­ery rose straight up from chim­neys and pipes. Some­times, if they weren’t suf­fi­ciently pro­tected in­side woolen hats, folks’ ears froze, snapped off like ici­cles, and shat­tered on the ground. Tin­kle, tin­kle, tin­kle.

There was an out­door skat­ing rink near the high school. In those days, be­fore the ad­vent of wind chill, if the tem­per­a­ture dropped to 20 de­grees be­low Fahren­heit — Yes, Farhren­heit. Cel­sius had not yet been adopted— skaters knew not to ex­ert them­selves on the ice for fear of freez­ing their lungs.

Didn’t need a weath­er­man to know that.

Of course, there was no fear of me freez­ing my lungs in­side the school in the li­brary.

“Harry, my pre­var­i­cat­ing love, you didn’t spend much time in the li­brary, I’m sure. More likely, af­ter school you went straight home hop­ing for cook­ies.

Ah, Dear­est Duck’s hand lodged on my shoul­der. I thought she was shop­ping and I was home-free in my quest for hon­esty in snip­pets of mem­oir. “You’re back early, my Duck.” Okay, back on track. Nowa­days, weather­men have com­put­ers and such to help them pre­dicted the fu­ture. They have graph­ics and mod­els, what­ever they are, to dis­play colour­ful dig­i­tal … well, maps, I s’pose on tele­vi­sion.

And get this, to en­hance, to fur­ther mys­tify the flim-flam of weather fore­cast­ing, me­te­o­rol­o­gists have un­leashed a snaking up­per at­mos­phere en­tity akin to some mytho­log­i­cal sky ser­pent — the Jet Stream.

Ap­par­ently, the Jet Stream coils around the planet’s ears stir­ring up the weather like Granny stir­ring soup.

Gran’Pappy knew naught about the Jet Stream. In his day it was still hi­ber­nat­ing, I s’pose.

“Sun dogs,” Gran’Pappy said. “Dirt by din­ner­time to­mor­row.” “Harry.” “What, my Duck?” I ask you, af­ter the mat­ri­mo­nial glow had faded, did Anne Hath­away in­ter­rupt young Billy Shake­speare so?

Gran’Pappy has long since gone to live with Je­sus and has missed most of these new­fan­gled meth­ods of weather fore­cast­ing. But I sus­pect he was aware of the im­pend­ing in­tro­duc­tion of Cel­sius be­cause he once said to me, “There’s change com­ing, my son. Things are go­ing to freeze at zero and when it’s thirty de­grees out­side ‘twill be too hot to live.”

P’raps it’s a good thing Gran’Pappy didn’t get to meet the Jet Stream’s aquatic cousins, El Nino and La Nina. He would have seen their ex­is­tence as rea­son enough to haul up his boat and call ‘er quits.

And now in the winter of 2014 a brand new weather beastie has been born. It sits on the po­lar cap like a fivefin­gered starfish and, at its whim, de­cides to twist its frozen fin­gers into sub-arc­tic climes and freeze the be­jab­bers out of all and sundry. Be­ware the Po­lar Vor­tex. Po­lar Vor­tex! Don’t need a weath­er­man to know what that’s a load of, eh b’ys?

Thank you for read­ing.

Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach

him at gh­wal­

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