Weather Matters

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal Leave a Comment

We all get the same amount of ice. The rich get it in the summer. The poor get it in the winter. (Bat Masterson)

We have had a run of multiple days without the temperature getting up to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. We stayed in the single digits or below zero at nights, and some days didn’t warm up to twenty. I realize that may sound balmy to some of you in the north, because it is cold all across the country and especially with the blizzards in the northern United States. Somewhere up by one of the Great Lakes, the weatherman said the temperature was 36 below. That wasn’t a wind chill figure. Best not to think about wind chills when it’s that cold.

Here in Kentucky, the weathermen talked a lot about wind chills. Many minus temperatures spread all over the maps. Sometimes you have to wonder if the worse the weather the happier those weather guys are. People were warned to not be outside for extended periods of time. People were encouraged to bring in your pets. Whoever decided dogs couldn’t take the chill hadn’t met my new dog. Frankie doesn’t mind zero temperatures. He likes them. He’s in no hurry at all to take care of business and head back to the house. The longer the walk, the better. He has a nice thick furry coat. When my fingers started aching inside my gloves, I insisted that business done or not, we had to go back in the house. Dogs must not have feeling in their feet because they can run around through snow and on ice without a shiver. Well, Frankie can, anyway. We haven’t had any measurable snow since I got Frankie, but I know he’s going to love it when we do.

The pictures are from a few winters ago when we did have an ice storm. Give me snow anytime. But the ice clinging to the rock face and then coating trees and bushes made for some interesting photos. When I was a kid, I remember breaking the long icicles off the eaves and having a frozen treat. I’m sure nowadays that would be a big no no. Things were simpler then. We drank water that came from the sky. We collected it in a cistern and then drew it out with a bucket. I learned to draw water while I was still young enough to worry about falling into the cistern. Never mind that the opening was small and I’d have had to jump in feet or head first. The bucket was on a chain and I learned how to flip it to make it fill before I pulled it up. Trust me, turning on a faucet is much easier.

The quote at the first of this post takes me back in time to when refrigerators that make ice weren’t sitting in most every kitchen. When I researched These Healing Hills, one of the highlights mentioned for the Frontier nurses was getting the gift of a kerosene refrigerator. Electricity hadn’t made it into the far reaches of the mountains where the clinics were located. Most people had spring houses where they would sit their jugs of milk in cool water that came out of the heart of the mountain or perhaps like my mother before she had electricity, they may have had underground cellars where things stayed a bit cooler in the summertime.

I have snow and ice in some of my books. In Love Comes Home, Lorena, Kate and Jay build snowmen. In Summer of Joy, people knock on doors in the middle of snowstorms.  In These Healing Hills, Fran delivers a baby in a snow and ice storm.

Weather matters in stories. Bad weather can be a challenge to my characters. Both winter cold and summer heat. In Angel Sister the summer is hot and dry as it is in my second Heart of Hollyhill book, Orchard of Hope.  It’s winter in the book I’m working on right now, but I have written rainstorms on sunny days and imagined the heat of the summer sun on snowy days. But I’m glad for a warm, dry room to create whatever weather I’m going to throw at my characters.

One of those unwritten rules is to never open a book with the weather. “It was a dark and stormy night.” “The rain hit her in the face.” “A cold wind made him shiver.” But all rules have exceptions. I can’t remember if I’ve broken that rule in any of my books or not. But I do pay attention to the weather.

Do you notice the weather in the stories you read?

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