Talking about the weather gets such a bad rap. You can barely ever get through the sentence, “How’s this weather today?” before someone interjects with a snarky, “Are we really that boring that we’ve resorted to talking about the weather?”.
But I think the weather is a super important and also interesting topic of discussion. Living in Melbourne might play a part in this, as Melbourne is known as the ‘four seasons in one day’ city, which means there can be daily frustration, delight and funny stories attached to the weather. In other words, great talking points. Even so, fellow Melburnians are conscious of talking about the weather too much.
Back in my era of going on many first dates, the weather was often a natural first topic to break the first date jitters. Comments like, “Oh I didn’t bring a jacket because I didn’t think it was going to rain on a summer’s day! Can we sit inside?” or “How freezing is it right now? I feel so unmotivated…” can be helpful for breaking the ice.
But those topics are quickly hurried along because talking about the weather is deemed as a ‘last resort’ when it comes to date chat and is perceived as a sign of a weak connection.
It feels relevant and necessary that we rewrite this trope though, given the last few days of wildly cold weather and the reports of Queensland’s coldest morning of the year, winds “cold enough for snow gear” in New South Wales, and unlikely parts of Australia expected to have a thick layer of snowfall.
Of course, it’s also freezing here in Victoria, but the winds are something else. As I write, I can hear them howling underneath my door like something out of a horror film, and the tall trees right outside my window are literally blowing from side to side.
Last night, the wind was so ferocious that more than 233,000 homes and businesses were left without power and in metropolitan Melbourne, more than 30,000 people were without power. According to the ABC, the SES received more than 3,600 calls for assistance, more than 1,000 of them since midnight.
I’m not making the weather sound very cute, but in truth, I love the cold. Having power outages in a storm? Not so much. But the grey sky and constant sheets of rain have this romantic feeling attached to them. I don’t know whether it’s because my favourite kissing scene is the one in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, where Holly and Fred are embracing in the rain with Cat between them, or if there’s something moody about the grumbling universe that makes me feel moody enough to get creative.
On that note, the weather is actually a huge controller of our mood, which is one of the reasons talking about the weather can be such an interesting way to connect.
Of many different elements of weather, sunshine (or lack of it) is the most intimately tied to mood. Sunlight has been found to boost positive moods, dampen negative emotions and decrease tiredness. Heat has also been shown to cause aggression, both emotionally and physically.
Just as sunny weather can create a sunny disposition, grey weather can induce a grey attitude, a bit of a ‘meh’, unmotivated vibe. To feel ‘under the weather’ means to feel a bit “off”, but it could also be read as feeling under the weather; as though you’re under its control.
The other element of weather that makes it a super important topic of conversation. is its links to climate change. By monitoring and importantly, talking about the weather, we are able to keep tabs on how Earth and our environment is doing by weather patterns and extreme weather events.
Scientific studies indicate that extreme weather events such as heatwaves and large storms are likely to become more frequent or more intense with human-induced climate change. But the weather isn’t just an indicator of our declining climate, it also has a huge impact on us as a society.
Extreme variations in weather can be threatening to us, as more frequent and intense extreme heat events can increase illnesses and deaths, especially among vulnerable populations, and damage crops. Similarly, in extreme cold weather events, crops can be destroyed and we’re more susceptible to flu viruses by compromising our immune sysyems – which is a triggering topic to say the least.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that weather chat is important. From when it was used as a mere disguise for flirty banter in Jane Austen novels, to when we feel glum alongside dreary weather, to when it impacts our mood, our sleep and our climate; the weather is absolutely a high-brow conversation topic.
To be honest, I didn’t know how passionately I felt about this until right now but phew, getting all these pent-up feelings about the weather out feels good.
Feel free to save this article as a backup for the next time someone tries to sass you for commenting on the cold.