I grew up with this notion that “small talk” meant that you couldn’t say anything deep. Chat about insignificant topics with people you don’t really know in order to keep the conversation light. Don’t talk about politics or religion—talk about everyone’s health and the weather.
So naturally, I’ve grown up not wanting to talk about the weather. To me, it has always signified something shallow, unreal and cliché.
I’m from Southern California, the land of sun and beach, of 80-degree days in January. This means that I can usually get away with not discussing the weather, because it’s pretty boring—sun, sun, and more sun. Don’t get me wrong; I love the sun, and have always enjoyed living someplace it likes to show its warm face. But growing up where the weather is almost always ideal, I never moved past the idea that talking about weather was silly.
So imagine my surprise when I came to England and found that everyone here talks about the weather. Constantly. It’s one of the first go-to conversation topics: “It’s been sunny for three days in a row now,” or “It’s supposed to rain in this morning, but the afternoon will be nice.” Ask any Brit, and they will most likely be able to tell you the next few days of weather forecast. When I first arrived, it amazed me. It seemed as if every English citizen was a walking weather prediction.
Now, having been here for three weeks, I understand. It rains, it stops raining. The sun comes out, then goes away again. It rains for an hour, stops, and then starts up again.
Compared to Southern California, the weather is so interesting here. It might not be fun to go into church when it’s sunny and come out to a soaking-wet world an hour later, realizing that you have to bike 30 minutes to get back home. But in England, the weather is a legitimate topic for conversation. While Southern Californians could comment on the weather every day, it would generally have little effect on our lives. Here, though, knowing the weather forecast is vital for survival, and warm days are so very rare that they receive loud acclamations every time they appear. The amazing thing is, I’ve fallen prey to this whirl-wind of weather prediction. It’s the first thing my roommate and I talk about when we get up in the morning.
It’s been raining almost all day. Just as I’ve finished writing this post, the rain has stopped. Really, the Lord has a funny sense of humor.