When corresponding with friends, especially those who live far away, it’s not uncommon to work the weather into the conversation. Southerners love writing Northerners in February and Northerners love to return the favor in August.
I must admit that most of my weather updates are little more than that, updates. If I mention the weather in a correspondence, it’s usually what meteorologists call the “current conditions”: the temperature, humidity (or windchill), and something about the look of the sky.
But there are people who can make reading about the weather as gripping as an outdoor adventure novel. One such person was C. S. Lewis. In a letter to his good friend, Arthur Greeves, dated December 6, 1931 (note the month), Lewis describes how things look out his window. With a reference to George MacDonald’s Phantastes: A Faerie Romance, Lewis writes,
“This is a thing that you and I have to be thankful for — the fact that we do not only don’t dislike but positively enjoy almost every kind of weather. We had about three days of dense fog here lately. That was enough to tax even my powers of doing without the sun, but though it became oppressive in the end I felt that it was a cheap price to pay [for] its beauties. There was one evening of mist about three feet deep lying on the field under the moon — like the mist in the first chapter of Phantastes. There was a morning (up in the top wood) of mist pouring along the ground through the fir trees, so thick and visible that it looked tangible as treacle. Then there were afternoons of fairly thin, but universal fog, blotting out colour but leaving shapes distinct enough to become generalized — silhouettes revealing (owing to the suppression of detail) all sorts of beauties of grouping that one does not notice on a coloured day. Finally there were days of real fog: days of chaos come again: specially fine at the pond, when the water was only a darker tinge in the fog and the wood on the far side only the ghostliest suggestion: and to hear the scurry of the waterfowl but not to see them. Not only was it an exciting time in itself but by the contrast has made today even more beautiful than it would have been — a clear, stinging, winter sunshine.”1
I really do need to work on my weather reports.
“Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.” – Psalm 97:2.
- Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Books, Broadcasts, and the War 1931-1949, Vol. II (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004), 22. Italics in original.