I was sitting at table in an outdoor restaurant in hotel in Kampala, Uganda, last month, listening to the birds and enjoying the early morning sun, when I said to one of the hotel employees 'Well, it looks like it will be a fine day' or something to that effect. He looked at me rather strangely, and my colleague Ross Wein laughed and reminded me that Canadians might understand that comment but people in the tropics do not. Every day in Africa is a fine day in terms of weather. People in tropical climates don't talk about the weather. It's just there.
Canadians can be rather paranoid about the weather. Somehow many people have not come to terms with living in a northern climate. We have four seasons, each with distinct characteristics. We have variety in our weather, something I would miss greatly if I lived in Nairobi or Los Angeles. But Canadians continue to complain about how long winter is, how short summers are, and how the climate is changing ('We used to have mountains of snow at 50 below: but we don't have that anymore').
Canadians are a grumpy lot about fine weather as well. If you tell most Canadians that it's a fine summer day (on a fine summer day) you are likely to get at least some of the following responses:
- Well, it's about time. We've had lousy weather all year.
- Yeah, but we'll pay for it later.
- We deserve it
- Have you seen the forecast for later this week?
- Sure, it's fine during the week, but then it always rains on the weekend.
- But we sure need some rain.
One of the reasons that we never seem to be satisfied with the weather is that we don't understand our environment. We are a northern country: snow happens, and that's good. Some parts of our country are arid or semi-arid so the farmers and ranchers who live in these areas will often get not quite enough rain and, in other years, enough or more than enough for the crops they have chosen to plant.
We have established a society in which we expect people to travel to work every day of the year, winter and summer, and work from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Thus, in the winter people drive to work in the dark and return in the dark. That's not a very natural approach, but it works for most of us.
Perhaps we expect that since most of the television shows we see are filmed in what many people consider ideal weather and ideal climates that we somehow deserve to have weather each day that is the same as the weather that we saw on TV the night before.
My father, a farmer, would get very annoyed with weather reporters on city stations saying 'We're lucky again this week. No rain in sight, just nice, hot weather.' Crops need rain and hot weather and our economy depends at least partly on agriculture and forestry.
Weather is just weather. We can only observe. Understanding our environment means accepting the benefits of warm summer days and cool summer evenings and finding pleasure in winter sports or simply staying inside and relaxing. Complaining about weather is a non-productive activity: and like other negative efforts wastes energy and detracts from our lives.
However, since you asked, the temperature is -3.2 degrees C. We've had virtually no snow thus far this winter, and could certainly use some moisture. But we're enjoying the warm weather.