As I write this, the forecast low for tonight is -8C. So much snow has fallen here over the past few days that tree branches aren’t able to bear the load of the uncharacteristcally sticky white stuff, and so they are falling. Branches are falling onto sidewalks, onto power lines and onto cars. City crews have been constantly busy keeping up with the aftermath, and until the snow melts, we won’t know the damage that has been done. Those details alone are odd, but it doesn’t stop there. Today is September 10th, so we are still technically within summer. My kids built a snowman in the back yard today, and when they were done, it looked around and said, “I’ve been sadly misinformed about summer.” Not only is it this cold now, but it was 25C on Sunday morning. I was sweating at the pulpit, and I wasn’t event talking about sex or money. The five day forecast for this coming Sunday is 21C as well.
Still, these temperature fluctuations and the concept of snow in September aren’t unheard of in this part of the world. The altitude, the jet streams, and our Canadian citizenship mean that we locals should be used to this. I’ve only been here for four years, and I’m barely phased by this. Still, a lot of people are doing what I refuse to do, and that’s complain.
It isn’t that I’m entirely unaffected. My walk to and from my daughter’s school left me with wet socks and shoes and stiff muscles from navigating the slush and the ice and the hills. There are tree branches and whole trees down in my condo complex, on the streets and in the parks of my town, and all along my commute to my office. My winter hat, boots and brushes were hard to find and will now be in the way for the next few months before it snows again, and it isn’t worth fully putting them away in the meantime. We had to turn the heat on yesterday, and my forecasted utility savings will have disappeared. Still, I won’t complain, and here’s why:
1. It isn’t actually that bad – I’m guessing if you are dealing with the same things, you’re probably looking at this list and asking why that isn’t a good enough reason to complain. But, if you are reading this in another place or even in this same place a few months down the road, it will look like a pretty pathetic list. These are minor things for us.
2. It sets a bad precedent – If we all complain about this storm now, then when there is a freezing rain storm in Saskatoon in October or a hail storm in Kamloops in November, or a swarm of lucusts in Houston in December, then they will be just as insufferable then as I want to be now. And if you’re using your good weather as an excuse to tease people about their bad weather, you’re inviting that much more ridicule and that much less sympathy when your storm comes.
3. Our ability to tolerate weather isn’t a contest – If I make a big deal of this storm, and then someone in a warmer climate without snow infrastructure is impacted by a less intense storm, my comments now will make me much less sympathetic then. Plus, it will also invite unsympathetic comments from people who deal with similar storms more often than I do.
4. I see the big picture – One isolated storm does not serve as proof or counter-evidence of anyone’s understanding of climate change. If that was the case, larger scientific studies wouldn’t need to be done, and my wet socks would be the equivalent of a Master’s degree in science.
5. I’m not that important – I can handle a longer commute or even a day working at home. If I miss a meeting, someone can email me the minutes. If I miss an appointment, it can be rescheduled.
6. Other people have it worse than me – I’m not even talking about people in a poor country far away. If you’ve got 160 acres of barley sitting under 3 inches of snow at the beginning of September, you could be in trouble. A tree damaged car pales in comparison to that kind of agricultural economic impact.
7. I choose to be content – Dwelling on the negatives and ignoring the positives is a pretty lousy way to live your life. I’ve got a great family, a good job and I’m relatively good health. It’s going to take a lot more than climate fluctuations to bring me down.
Now, I get it, this is light-hearted enjoyment for some people. It’s fun to complain. I’m complaining about complainging right now. Some people argue that there are therapeutic properties to it even, but that’s really just a “two wrongs make a right” kind of philosophy. The concept that your negative attitude about negative circumstances can somehow produce a positive outcome is theoretical at best. But if you have the mental capacity to choose to be happy, you should give it a shot. Somebody else getting bad weather won’t cheer you up (and it shouldn’t anyway), your own weather improving won’t always cheer you up either. So if you can’t find your happiness in weather, you shouldn’t find your sadness there either.