In Minnesota, the weather is a conversation staple.
It is not uncommon for Minnesotans to discuss over short ribs at their cousin’s wedding whether the rainstorm Paul Douglas has been coddling in the Star Trib will generate enough moisture to give the corn a chance. January is long and dark there, and Minnesotans stoically lift their faces to the sky as they exit the Holiday gas station with a bottle of antifreeze in each mittened palm, and call their wives to speculate about when that blizzard will blow in from the Dakotas. In late March, when they are taunted with alternating 60-degree days and stubborn snow falls, my family takes bets on when the last ice will melt from the lake. Winner is immune from raking leaves next October.
I even recall a time in college when we sat in the common room, textbooks abandoned, and swapped stories of the Halloween Blizzard of ’91. Who had been born, who had not. I’m proud of the page in my baby book dedicated to the event; I am plump and red-cheeked in a pink snowsuit, and our jack-o-lanterns are leering from underneath a foot of powder.
Here in Washington D.C., the weather is relegated to last-ditch small talk. I know this because whenever I try to bring it up, I receive a painstakingly polite eyebrow raise in return: really, you can’t do better than that? I’ve learned that when this happens, I should change the subject to the latest primary election results. “What did you think of the debate last night?” and “Have you tried brunch at ____ ?” are other effective reversal tactics.
It’s a shame, because did you hear that because it’s been so warm, the cherry blossoms bloomed two weeks early?