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Let's talk about . . .

     . . . the weather! We're talking about the weather! Finally a safe topic for casual conversation in sunny—used to be, anyway—Southern California. Never talked about the weather before. It was always boringly, but pleasantly, the same: sunny and warm. Okay, kind'a hot in the summer but you know what I mean.

     You couldn't meet up with someone and say, "Wonder if it's going to rain tomorrow?" because it never was, if you don't count a few days in January. Anyway, everyone here's talking about the weather now and that's a very good thing because if they didn't they might have to talk about this year's elections and that wouldn't go over so well with a lot of people.

     The weather's a safe topic. The weather's fascinating!  Never mind. I didn't mean that. But what with whether to wash your car, SUV, or pickup this weekend, or whether to invite friends over for a barbecue, or whether to take your son to swim at the Y, the state of the sky and its contents is a bit more important than it used to be—around here, at least. You who live in the northern, eastern, and middle sections of the country have this topic to fall back on practically year-round when things get touchy in the communication arena—lucky you—but it's all new to us in the Southwest.

     It is so welcome. There's something communal about sharing weather news. I first noticed this when I was in Pennsylvania in January after years in southern California. As people coming in from the snowstorm blew into the entryway of the restaurant, they shed their winter coats, stomped their booted feet, hung their hats on the hat rack and chatted about the weather, comparing opinions about whether the storm would let up before they finished dining and had to go back outside. Camaraderie at work.

     So now we get to do the same thing, here in our used-to-be-always-sunny corner of the country. Well, not about snowstorms—not yet, anyway—but about rainstorms and cold, almost freezing, weather and how weird it is that yesterday it was in the fifties and cloudy and today it's sunny and in the eighties. What's with that? Plus it's s'posed to rain tomorrow—with thunderstorms no less. The weather apps on our phones are working overtime!

     Just to remind us we still live in southern California, an earthquake rattled us the other day. "Did you feel it?" "Feel what?" "The earthquake this afternoon." "Didn't feel a thing!" Probably 'cause it was raining at the time. What's a little earthquake when you have rain?

     It's a relief to have the weather to talk about. When you meet someone new, weather is a safe conversational option. It's one we never had before, but this year we have plenty to talk about: pouring rain, thunderstorms, colder than heck then warm and sunny by afternoon then colder than heck again by day's end. Cold weather, hot weather, car washes closed then opened, cars rain-streaked the day after a car wash, sprinklers and drip systems turned off for months. So much to talk about.

     Good thing. Across the country friends of differing minds on politics, religion, government, Presidential candidates, child-rearing, spouse handling—not to mention the handling of pandemics and falling stock markets—have a safe haven. The weather! It's enough to keep you going 'til the sheep come home—or whoever's coming home at your house.

     Keep it safe. Keep your friends. Make friends with strangers. Talk about the weather.

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