Gardening Life

Weather Gossip

Read by Michael Flamel


What is the number one conversation topic of all gardeners? You know it: weather. We all know what Mark Twain said: “Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”

Well, I think Mr. Twain missed the point of his own remark. You’re supposed to just talk about the weather. New Mexico farmer Stanley Crawford put it this way in his book, A Garlic Testament: “There is something deeply functional in talk about the weather. In it we gossip about the planet itself.”

That I like.

“The nerve of that cold front, showing up after I set out my tomatoes!”

“I heard there’s something big brewing between Texas and Louisiana!”

“I just don’t know. If we have another dry summer like last year, I’m going to give up on gardening altogether. When things aren’t going to work out, make a clean break of it, I always say.”

See there? Weather gossip is fun! It’s got other virtues, too! You get to exercise your criticizer muscle, the one between your teeth, without any of that sour, thou-shall-not-speak-ill-of-your-neighbors aftertaste. You share that wonderful sense of unity that comes when people gang up to pick on someone. Nothing like venting our bad feelings on somebody else—or in this case, something else—to make it easier to have good feelings for each other.

Weather gossip’s also a foolproof icebreaker. “Hello there, Gorgeous. Seen any good weather lately?”

Okay, that might be a little extreme, but weather talk is just about the safest verbal lubricant. Here was me on the phone, back when I was trying to convince a mail-order garden business to buy an ad in the magazine:

“Good afternoon, Mr. Cleanseeds, how’s the weather up there?”

“Who is this?”

“It’s like that down here, too. Say, wannabuyanadinmymagazine?”

Works everytime, let me tell you!

See what I mean? Weather gossip is the number one all-around conversational panacea. I’m really amazed we don’t see ads for it on late-night TV. “Yes, you, too, can attract partners, impress your coworkers, entertain the kids, and distract that angry spouse. Just talk about the weather! To learn how, call this toll-free number: 1-800-COM-PLAIN!”

All right, all right, you get the point, I’ll lay off. Just one more thing. Remember how Crawford said weather talk is gossip about the planet itself. That, to me, is its final, and supreme, virtue. After all, weather is one of the most audible ways the planet talks to us. And the closer we pay attention to what it’s saying, the more likely we—all of us—will be just a little bit gentler in our replies.


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