We’re having some weather in Alabama this week. That’s euphemistic for “all hell broke loose on the weather front a few days ago,” or, in this case, “Tornado, ho!” Two nights ago, the tornado sirens went off from 1 a.m. until nearly 2 a.m., and the children, dogs, and I sat in the laundry room with our bike helmets at the ready. The sirens were totally unnecessary: the storm had been beating the house so violently that we were already awake and assuming the touch down in Oz would come at any moment.
Apparently, this is part of the Alabama experience. Just like it was part of the West Texas experience. And like a massive earthquake was part of the Turkey experience. Mother Nature is eager to let you know that, wherever you go, you can’t outsmart her. That’s her prerogative.
But that’s not my point . . .
All of this “weather” has got me to thinking about England. And I have a bone to pick…with Winnie the Pooh.
Yes, the bear with the blustery day adventures. [insert a ‘Bah Humbug’ here] His tale raises an issue of honesty amongst A.A. Milne and his British compatriots. Lovely people, the lot of you, so please don’t take this the wrong way, but you are horrible fibbers and obfuscators where the weather is concerned. Yes, you are. Don’t deny it.
Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. Over in America, this title conjures imagines of a lovely, warm wind wafting the wee bear about. No mortal danger.
!!! No mortal danger??? The woods get “floodier and floodier,” Owl’s house is demolished, and Piglet is caught in a whirlpool! This is a blustery day? Well, in the Queen’s English, apparently so. . .
Soon after moving to England, I learned that anytime the weather prediction calls for a “fresh” day or “blustery” afternoon, you’d better zip up the coat (the WARM coat) or batten down the hatches. Batten down, board up, and leave town if possible. But a British weatherman won’t say that. They are an understated breed.
In Alabama, a funnel cloud forms and sirens go off. In the Carolinas, hurricanes hit and we are told to board up and move out. In England, we are told only “It will be a blustery afternoon.”
Case in point: the year is 2007 and I’m listening to the BBC weatherman call for a blustery day tomorrow. Next thing you know, I’m walking my children to school in 80 mile an hour wind. Blustery? That’s hurricane-grade weather! And still the evening news says, “It was a blustery day, with winds of 80 miles an hour.” Just like that. No biggie.
These storms closed down nothing in England—and while I admire a stiff upper lip sometimes, I am not such a fan of young school children skittering uncontrollably across the street on their walk to school or patio furniture launching itself into the tree tops where it will dangle, precariously, over passersby in the street. I’m not bitter, but that was my furniture in the treetops. (And me in the treetops trying to rescue it.) And that was the Stephenson family skittering out into the street. (And me carrying my daughter’s large keyboard on my back, windsail-esque, and flying out into the street at each gust. . . while my 8 year old shrieked in abject terror—fearing either that I’d be hit by a car or take sail over the rooftops, I’m not sure which.)
So that’s a little bit of a rant, but let me just suggest that truth in advertising is a good thing. Maybe weather forecasters and Mr. Milne should consider a slight renaming of these “gusty” days: “bat-out-of-hell blustery day” would get the point across. Winnie the Pooh and the Bat-out-of-Hell Blustery Day. It does have a ring to it.
And all of this begs a traveler’s question: are Americans spastic about the weather, or are Brits absolutely inert about it? The answer is. . .yes.
Apparently, even weather is a culturally-bound experience.
Und so, wie ist das Wetter in Deutschland?