Weather is always such an important part of a story, in my mind. They say that battles are all about the sounds and smells, but a good story of any sort has to tell me about the weather.
I’ve grown up in the south, where we have two seasons: winter and summer. We start with winter, where we have this damp cold that just soaks into your body. As someone who has visited other colder climates, there’s something about cold humidity that just… latches onto your bones. Then we have about three days of cool nights and warmish spring, and BAM! It’s summer, and you’re sweating after being outside for thirty seconds. After three months of roasting, we have three days of fall, where the leaves are crisp and you can smell it in the soil, and then it’s cold again.
Honestly, I’m exaggerating a little, but it’s more correct than I wish. Furthermore, I wish we had more snow. That being said, it’s not the seasons I mean. Sure, it’s important, but not like a steady rain to set the mood. One of my earliest roleplays with my wife online, back when we were only dating, and she was placating my creativity, we roleplayed two characters named Rykk Wraith and Madison Jade. Now, in the background, Rykk was a well-traveled human warrior and merchant, and Madison Jade was an Elven princess who was running from her past. Rykk paid for a room at a tavern for her for several nights before the two traveled on together. At a dainty little tavern at a small village, seeking shelter from a storm outside, Rykk played the piano for her in the upstairs, by firelight, and won her heart. Easy right? My young mind was a simple thing. Still to this day, though, the sound of rain, thunder, and Fur Elise, makes my heart flutter.
If you think about it now, you can probably think of several moments in mass media of some type where weather set the tone of the scene. Was it a foggy night, somewhere on the moor, and the hero or heroine was in danger? Was there a sweet embrace in the rain? Even Hans Christian Anderson used weather in stories like the Little Match Girl, where snow was the detriment of the girl. I’m just that the list can go on and on.
Just the other day, I read a really interesting article talking about how bad weather can make us feel nostalgic. Summarizing the article found here, scientists linked bad weather like rain, thunder, and wind, to feelings of optimism and social connectedness. In my mind it makes sense on so many levels. For one — one big one, to me — what happens when the weather gets bad? Well, we all gather ’round and wait it out. It forces us to talk, to bond, to socialize. In the world of modern technology, most of us do so from behind a screen.
What about the smell of weather though? The word petrichor is one that I like to bring up in casual conversation when no one’s expecting it. Not really, but it is a word that I learned and use every chance I get. If you didn’t know, or were too lazy to follow my cheesy wikipedia link, petrichor is that smell you get right before rain. It’s the scent of soil disturbed and moistened by rain. Wet dirt. It’s the smell of wet dirt. But it’s a smell you can probably smell right now, because of your familiarity to it. And if you can’t, I’m sorry for you. It brings me so much joy when I think of the smell; like summers as a kid, playing outside, having to run from an approaching shower that can’t last more than an hour in the heat. Or baseball games, playing in the mud.
Weather triggers nostalgia, and these base human emotions that tie us down. Or lift us up. It somehow does all of these things, and we’re often to blind to the joys of it, because of the inconveniences.
Do me a favor. Two favors actually: One, read one of your favorite books and pay attention to how the author uses the weather, or watch a movie and do the same. Two, pay attention to the weather next time it’s anything besides sunny. Feel it.
You can thank me later.