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Nice Day, Today?

A sunny day dawns - you know what we'll be talking about.

What would we talk about but for the weather?

What other topic so perfectly and easily resonates with the strangers in our presence because we are unquestionably in this together? Whether we are enduring a storm or basking in warmth, we are sharing this moment, and so we can talk about it with someone we don’t know from Adam; it’s safe.

If it is dumping snow we gripe about shoveling. Rain permits us to wonder when will it end. Extreme heat or cold is worthy of a phrase or maybe even an expletive – “It is freaking freezing/boiling!” This tendency crosses borders, it is not a regional thing. I’ve spoken of weather with strangers all over the world.

We skied under uncharacteristically bluebird skies both Saturday and Sunday, and all everyone could speak about was how lucky we were to be skiing in such agreeable conditions. It was okay the first five chair lifts, but at some point you want to put a halt on the weather talk and just enjoy the moment. Raise your face to the sun, eyes closed, say some private words of thanks to whomever, and get on with it.

I am as guilty as anyone. I frequently lead in to conversations with useless and rather obvious notations about our current weather. It flies out of my mouth before I can stop it, like a pet seeking freedom by squeezing out a door that has cracked open an inch. My mouth opens and there it is: the weather, tumbling out before I can stop it. My default topic. My friend I can always count on. My space filler.

Politics are not so safe – we may be under the same regime, but can be either a staunch supporter or vocal opponent of government. Unless you happen to be at a party convention, in which case you can probably sling some zingers the way of the opposition without starting a fight.

Tragic events in other corners of the world can keep us going for a couple of days, providing the other person doesn’t have a friend or relative visiting the area. A little dicey, this one, proceed with caution. The stranger could get all emotional on you, and then what?

Children can be useful accessories for conversational purposes – a conspiring smile that passes between parents when one child throws a tantrum; a “we’ve all been there” discussion. Dogs, although I don’t own one, can provide another forum for shooting the breeze with total strangers.

But mostly it is the weather, the good old fallback that you can discuss with young and old alike, with people of different economic means, languages, cultures and political persuasions. It is the ultimate unifier, the glue we can count on to dissect at length if we find ourselves stuck in an elevator.

I’m realizing all of those strangers who won’t make eye contact are not rude. They have simply tired of discussing the weather.


  1. February 25, 2011 at 3:34 am

    I’ll tell you something that’s weird–I don’t notice folks here in Haiti talking as much about the weather. Maybe I’m just not talking to the right people or not enough people, but now that you mention this, the lack of weather talk here is down right weird.

    Dogs though are a great way to break the ice with people–though maybe talk about kids would accomplish the same thing.

    Interesting post, Deanna!

    • February 25, 2011 at 5:28 am

      Maybe because there are more important issues at hand, like survival, or rebuilding, or political developments. Maybe in North America, we have been lulled into weather talk in the absence of other unifying issues. Or perhaps Haiti’s weather varies little from day to day. Nevertheless, an interesting omission.

  2. February 25, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Haha! I just wrote a post about tornadoes. I swear it wasn’t in a “I have nothing to say so let’s talk about wind patterns” kind of way 🙂
    This is so true, though. I am guilty of talking about rain and wind when I don’t have something useful to say!

  3. February 25, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    We’re having what the weather people are calling the “worst storm of the season”…calling for something like 35 cm. of snow overnight. It took an hour to make our usual 25-minute drive home (a lot of the drive was on ice!). I was just happy to get safely into our driveway!


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