“King Sunny” by Jacques Dorier, Resin and washi papers
We humans are big on prediction; the end of the world, the outcome of a horse race, how much junk food we can eat at one sitting. Nostradamus may have been one of the first to earn his living predicting things, but how often was he right? Luckily Harold Camping was NEVER right.
Horse races don’t fare any better. California Chrome, racing for the Triple Crown, caused a lot of people to bet a lot of money predicting his win which fell to another. A cautionary ditty from the past said “I bet my money on a bob-tail nag, somebody bet on the bay.”
A local meteorologist was given the sack because he said you couldn’t predict the weather as much as seven days ahead. Now they do it regularly, but are they always right?
Television has hijacked the weather and stolen its mystery. Poetic ruminations about the moon and the stars and the wind have no place in TV’s world of scientific charts. They show us continental maps filled with circles and arrows amid large sections of color purporting to tell us of oncoming floods, tornadoes, snowstorms and hurricanes heading our way. No pity softens the voice of the person telling us that tomorrow’s temperature of 96 degrees will have a “real-feel” temperature of 107.
An earlier breed of sky watchers didn’t take weather so seriously. America’s early songwriters knew in their bones that there were blue moons, buttermilk skies and even rain wasn’t an event to get your knickers in a twist. It’s a state of mind, the stuff of dreams and yearnings.
To lyricists in the 20’s and 30’s the weather was a meteorologist’s playground, and they didn’t hesitate to write about phenomena not known to science: blue moons, paper moons, stardust, stars falling on Alabama, pennies from Heaven, a storybook life over the rainbow.
Johnny Mercer wrote about 1500 songs, and along with Harold Arlen and others, realized that the weather served songwriters as a metaphor for a broken heart. Torch songs as they were called in that day, were mostly sung by women, and bad weather predicted bad news, the end of the world. “Stormy Weather” is a slow lamentation of lost love. And what could be worse?
We hear that the bride is happy if the sun shines on her. We are left to wonder what might happen if it rains on the wedding day.
That kind of weather doesn’t get recorded on any television chart.
4 thoughts on “THE ART OF PREDICTION”
The weather here is so changeable that we say, “If you don’t like our weather, wait five minutes”. In such a climate, any help from the weather “predictors” is appreciated. Do I need my umbrella, my sunglasses, or both?
The meteorologists are really pretty accurate today.
I just read Squirrelbasket’s post about poppies. She mentioned the blue poppy, so I suggested she get in touch with you because you had one! Isn’t the internet amazing—she is in Wales, you are in B.C. and here I am in California with only orange poppies growing wild?
But of course, you’ve titled your piece “The Art of Prediction”. That’s quite different from the science of prediction. And, to be quite frank, those who practice the predictors’ arts are more often (or certainly just as often) the ones to get it right.
We still have a whole lot of weather music here on the Gulf Coast. There are the familiar, fun ones, like Rodney Crowell’s “Stars On the Water”, but it’s the hurricane music that gets us. Speaking of which, just watching Randy Newman made me remember that it’s nearly past June, and it’s been so placid I’ve not been diligent about getting prepared for The Season. I’d better get with it, because there are indications we could have our first Atlantic tropical critter next week.
This may be the best song ever about too much rain and a great big flood, but it does just fine for a hurricane, too.
Great Randy Newman song. I’m behind times in my music I guess. I haven’t heard much of late. Isn’t it early for a hurricane? I imagine there is a lot to do around the marinas.
Perhaps someday they will be able to predict an earthquake. Meanwhile we build to survive them. (Or not). Just goes to show there is no perfect place to live! We complain about no rain, but can do nothing about it. It will rain when it gets good and ready.