October 27, 2021
I was working to synchronize the timed heating system with the individual settings on the many radiators at the cottage. I thought perhaps a thermometer would help the cause and so asked neighbors and friends and tradesmen where I might buy one. They all looked at me like I had just flown in from another planet, which I suppose would include the US. I would find that thermometers are just not a thing over there. Why would I want one? Just step outside.
It seems everyone has their favorite weather forecasting source but no one puts much stock in them. Living with and relying on natural rhythms and forces has roots in the Irish heritage. Just step outside. Joe McGowan writes about this in Echoes Of A Savage Land. It was the 1950’s and rural Ireland was just beginning to be electrified.
The Meteorological Service was in its infancy then and many a man who listened to and acted on their advice had reason to rue his trust. Worse still, defective information gathered in this way and passed on to a trusting neighbour invited ridicule or worse. Willie was one of the first men in our village to get a radio and from that time forth assumed a new importance as an authority of the weather.
Willie’s next-door neighbour, Patrick, trusting the new technology, abandoned the old way of studying later and signs to predict the weather. Once when Patrick intended to ‘let out’ a field of hay to dry prior to ‘tramping’, Willie confidently advised him that the weather forecast was good. There would be no rain that day! Reassured, and with the sun warm on his back, Patrick went to work and shook out his field of hay. By noon, clouds had rolled in from the Atlantic, the sky became increasingly dark and before long the rain came dropping down. It increased to a downpour and continued all day.
Patrick, arriving home in a black humour and soaking wet from his attempt at haymaking, had strong words for Willie, believing that he had been led astray on purpose. They didn’t talk for years afterwards, and it was through experiences like this that we gradually came to know that the Met Service was no more reliable than the old ways.
Just step outside. It would be wonderful if we could again be able to read the signs and live the natural rhythms…that those natural rhythms would inform the rhythms of our lives.
And no, there is no thermometer at the cottage and I have no plans for one.
Judith – firstname.lastname@example.org