My family and I just returned from a gorgeous horse pack trip into the Bighorns for four days.
The laundry is epic and our sunburn impressive but it was all worth it. As someone who grew up on the rolling plains of Illinois, I never tire of the mountains and I whine a fair amount in the summer that I’m not in them enough.
On this trip, I had a revelation. It was a revelation about a certain proclivity of mine and the possible reason behind it.
In this age of constantly being in touch, on call and available to any and all, leaving behind the smartphone wasn’t as scary as you’d think. There’s a tremendous amount of freedom when you realize that not only are you powerless to contact anyone, they can’t find you either!
So I didn’t miss texts, phone calls, status updates or tweets. But there was one thing I couldn’t have that gave me the shakes. There may have been some mild eye twitching, I can neither confirm nor deny. I’ll let you in on an embarrassing secret that my close friends and family already know about me — I’m addicted to the weather forecast. Well and truly hooked. The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, WeatherUnderground apps and I have a very co-dependent relationship. Wait. Who am I kidding? They could care less about me — I’m desperate for their wisdom and foresight even if it is sketchy, random and often completely erroneous.
Imagine my discomfort looking up at the sky in the middle of the forest, seeing clouds and having no idea whether those clouds portended thunder, just rain,or merely overcast? Maddening!
And what about the clothes choice for the daypack? Slicker? Sweatshirt? Long-sleeved t-shirt? Insanity!
I went with all of the above and used it all but still — if I had only known that day’s forecast for precipitation and the high and low temps, couldn’t I have done a better job of strategic packing? I can see you rolling your eyes. Perhaps you’d like to quote my mom — “Just stick your arm outside! That’s the weather.” I respectfully beg to differ. Or my personal favorite, “Those meteorologists are never right — why bother?”
Yeah, and that’s why the Weather Channel has its own network.
This addiction is fully inherited. My grandfather had a weather radio on at all times for constant bulletins and my dad not only monitors his own weather in Illinois but also mine and his winter location in Florida! At least I’m not that far gone.
I have determined after much soul searching (there is a lot of time for soul searching when you can’t check the weather for four days) that this is a control thing with me. Not that I can control the weather. Even I am not that big of a freak. But I can feel I have some idea of what’s on the horizon, literally and figuratively.
Being able to pull up the radar map at a moment’s notice or checking the 3-day forecast helps me feel I can control when I wash my car, water my flowers, cover my vegetables or pack a raincoat based on insider knowledge.
It’s probably better that my life in general can’t be forecast quite so succinctly — heaven knows my high and low temperatures fluctuate constantly and storm clouds can gather at a moment’s notice above my head. But it’s a small inner triumph when I leave for work in a sweater and slacks even though it was 75 degrees because I knew (and was proved right!) that a nasty front was coming through mid-morning and dropping the temp 30 degrees complete with a north wind.
Feel free to even call me petty when I admit that I’m a trifle smug seeing those non-weather addicts shivering in their flimsy sundresses. I didn’t say I was proud of it.
Amy Albrecht is the executive director of the Center for a Vital Community.