Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Weather

Thought for the dayShotgun weddings could be considered a matter of wife or death.

Just like most days, we turned on CNN this morning so we could feed our brains with the latest news whilst feeding our stomachs with Cheerios. (We're multi-taskers.) But unlike most days, CNN was nattering on and on about the Royal Wedding. To tell the truth, we hadn't planned on watching the blessed event, since our noses were still a wee bit out of joint about not receiving our royal invitation in a timely manner. Not that we would've gone, mind you. Being groped at the airport by a sweaty 300-pound TSA agent with bad breath isn't our idea of a romantic encounter, so we prefer to opt out of that particular experience, thank you very much. Still, an invitation would've been nice.

But, there it was on our TV, and we were too blooming lazy to change the channel. The solemn walk down the aisle. The crowds partying in the streets. The sure-to-be-rebroadcast-a-zillion-times double kiss. Jolly good, eh?

One thing newscasters and partiers in the street talked about was the weather. Never having been to London myself, I can't attest to it first-hand, but from what I've heard, London doesn't generally rate terribly high on the scale for great weather. Lots of fog and drizzly rain, yeah, but a perfect Chamber of Commerce day with wall-to-wall sunshine and gentle breezes? Not so much. But the Royal couple was blessed with off-the-scale beautiful weather today.

A good omen, some said.

On the other hand, my wedding day started out with showers. Not the oh-boy-another-blender kind of shower, but the wet falling from the sky kind. Know what people told me? That it was a good omen. That Heaven was shedding tears of joy for me. It didn't cry for long, though. Ended up sunny and nearly 100 degrees by early afternoon. Not sure what kind of omen that was supposed to be, but nearly 42 years later, we're still going strong, so I guess some of that good juju must've worked.

Anyway, I got to thinking about the role weather can play in our writing. For example, it can serve as a direct reflection of the story's tone or a character's emotions. It's no accident that dispositions are commonly described as stormy or sunny, or that unpleasant occurences invoke images of a "dark day." Think of the various possibilities for making weather a supportive element that emphasizes some aspect of your story. Blizzards can serve as a backdrop to feelings of isolation; thunderstorms can dramatize terror or fury; glorious sunshine like the Royal couple were blessed with today can backlight happiness and optimism.

Or the weather can serve as a stark contrast.

Yesterday, when I was preparing a garden for planting, I couldn't help but think about stark contrast. The sky was pale blue, polka dotted with bright white clouds. Lots of sunshine, and enough breeze to keep it comfortable. Yet, just north of me, under that same pale blue sky, and carressed by that same gentle breeze, hundreds of people were dealing with the staggering aftermath of tornadoes.

Remember that old song, sung by Dusty Springfield, with the lines

Why does the sun go on shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don't they know it's the end of the world ...

Those people dealing with the loss of their homes, everything they owned, and even their entire towns, must have felt a little like that. There's a certain disconnect when you are suffering and grieving, and the world goes on as usual, sunshine, gentle breeze, and all. But it is this kind of contrast that I believe adds an extra level of oomph to our stories.

Do you consciously make weather a meaningful element in your writing? If not, can you think of any books you've read where weather does play an important part? Oh, do tell.

Since I'm asking you to show me yours, I'll show you mine first. In Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade, the story takes place in Baltimore during an unseasonably hot dry spell, marked by daily bouts of thunder and lightning, and empty promises of rain that never comes. Until the end of the story ...

OK, I know you've all been waiting for it, so here it comes. It's time for the ...

Weirdest news stories of the week:

** Brewdog, the same illustrious beer-maker already credited with creating the world's strongest beer, not to mention serving beer in dead animal carcasses, has now released another extra special brew in the UK to commemorate the royal wedding. Called "Royal Virility Performance", this India Pale Ale is laced with ... Viagra. Yep, that's right. Downing three of these babies allegedly delivers the same upping power as taking a single Viagra. Think of all the twenty-somethings in the UK who are partying hearty in the streets while getting schnockered on these brews. (You KNOW they won't just stop at three!) Think of them passing out. Littering the streets. Lying on their backs with flagpoles raised on high. (a patriotic lot, to be sure) The unusual ale's bottle has some amusing lines on it, like "Arise Prince Willy." And the brewers claim that they've sent some of their new ale to the Prince, so he can enjoy a (wink, wink) stiff drink on his wedding night.

** Also in commemoration of the royal nuptials, a British firm has plans to sell bottles of "Royal Wedding Day Air." As I write this, a team of "trained professionals" is collecting samples of the air so they can capture the essence of this magical day. Hoping to sell these bottles as a collector's item, the company compares it to a fine bottle of champagne, and says the whole family can gather around it to take a healthy sniff. No idea what the price will be for this "collector's item", but I suppose it beats canned cow farts, eh?

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. The weather in my stories tend to be the same as the weather I'm writing it in. I'm weird that way :)

  2. I do use weather in my writing -- it's an important piece of the scenery.

    Re beer w/Viagra: what could possibly go wrong? *rolls eyes*

  3. Hi, Sam. That's pretty interesting. I guess it's easier to describe something you're experiencing in real time than it is to pull it up out of your memory bank. (especially when your memory bank is starting to get "overdrawn", like mine!)

    Hey, Linda. Yeah, I'm sure nothing could possibly go wrong with a combination of inebriation and uber-excitation ...

  4. Wedding air and cow farts in a jar....only in England you say?

  5. There is an award for you on my blog.

  6. Hi, Karla. Actually, the canned cow farts are being sold by a company in Germany. I guess that makes the Brits a bit more civilized.

    And thank you so much for the award. Now, let's see if Blogger will let me post it.

    Take care.