Weather vs. Climate & the Power of the Comparative

I love the area in which I grew up and now live. I have traveled to many surrounding areas and states (Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, etc.) and will argue with anyone that Western North Carolina has the best balance of weather in the world. Of course, my observations are certainly not unsubstantiated nor are they the earliest of their kind. There’s a reason WNC is known colloquially as Four Seasons. I mean, within a five mile radius of my dining room table (where I sit typing this), one can test-drive a car from Four Seasons Ford dealership on Four Seasons Boulevard, enjoy a film at Four Seasons Cinema, obtain the deed to a house from Four Seasons Realty, and support local farmers at the Four Seasons Country Market. And the list doesn’t come close to stopping there. Our weather defines us.

I’ll admit, I like to whine—a lot—and I’m always complaining about the seasonal influx of tourists from all over the eastern United States. “Why do they come here?” I asked my wife just the other day. “What in the world is there to do in Hendersonville that is worth the trip from Maine or Florida?” But in bragging about my own hometown, I think I’ve answered that question.

It’s true, Hendersonville is not known for its classy restaurants or its megamalls or its national landmarks (although I guess we do have Chimney Rock), but the constantly changing weather here and the surrounding landscapes are awe-inspiring to say the least. I just finished a book by John Steinbeck called Travels with Charley: In Search of America, in which Steinbeck writes about his cross-country journey of nearly 10,000 miles with his poodle. And in it, he makes an interesting comment about living in a place with constantly changing weather. Instead of trying to paraphrase, I’ll just quote him here.

I’ve lived in good climate, and it bores the h*** out of me. I like weather rather than climate. In Cuernavaca, Mexico, where I once lived, and where the climate is as near to perfect as is conceivable, I have found that when people leave there they usually go to Alaska. I’d like to see how long an Aroostook County man can stand Florida. The trouble is that with his savings moved and invested there, he can’t very well go back. His dice are rolled and can’t be picked up again. But I do wonder if a down-Easter, sitting on a nylon-and-aluminum chair out on a changelessly green lawn slapping mosquitoes in the evening of a Florida October—I do wonder if the stab of memory doesn’t strike him high in the stomach just below the ribs where it hurts. And in the humid ever-summer I dare his picturing mind not to go back to the shout of color, to the clean rasp of frosty air, to the smell of pine wood burning and the caressing warmth of kitchens. For how can one know color in perpetual green, and what good is warmth without cold to give it sweetness?

I too, like Steinbeck, have lived in Central American climate, where there are but two seasons: wet and dry. In spite of their distinctions, there is one common thread: heat—unrelenting, sultry, blistering heat. And I hated it.

When we moved home from Honduras in July of 2012, the summer season was in full-force, and I loathed every day of it until our little area of Four Seasons began to cool down, evenings grew longer, and autumn, and eventually winter, took over. I love every season now (my grudge against summertime is slowly subsiding) because just as I am about to grow tired of one of them, it fades away and another takes its place. And it’s true that the existence of each season adds to the sweetness of each of the others. Funny how relativity works that way.

 

Photo courtesy of Bing Art by Rachel Bingaman.

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