Careers in Science: Sentimental Meteorology

The sentimental meteorologist lies in bed reading a book about weather, wondering how many other sciences are expected by people to be wrong as much as they are right, and whether that means it’s a good job. He wonders about the most visible representatives of his profession, television weatherpersons, and how they often seem to be the comic relief on the news team — you have the anchorpersons, the sportspersons with the Frida Kahlo eyebrows, and the weatherpersons cracking jokes. As if the anchorpersons are chosen to physically represent journalistic integrity and authority, the sportspersons athleticism and a fascination with statistics, and weatherpersons science itself — a little goofy, a little aspergerish. People you could imagine forgetting their spouses at a rest stop.

The sentimental meteorologist is reading a book about weather because he wants to finally understand what causes fog. The book discusses every type of weather in detail, except for fog.

What  is it about fog, the sentimental meteorologist wonders.

Also, why was a cat sleeping under his pillow last night? What’s up with that? This makes him wonder if cats are a vector for lice in humans, and if humans can get ear mites.

And then everything itches.

Rest stops. The sentimental meteorologist would never forget his spouse at a rest stop, probably. Or a kid. Probably depends how tired he got.

The sentimental meteorologist wonders whether he should have studied optics or something, because of this: he has this idea right now that literature sucks because books contain the wrong light, or none at all. They lack the beautiful light of real life: the changing light of a baseball stadium open to the sky during an evening game, the light of supermarkets, sunrise and dusk, fog. The blue glow of television at night seen from the street by a lonely man. A campfire. A chemical factory burning down. A blinking cursor is no match for these things. Sunlight on snow. Oncoming headlights on high beam. A copy maching copying while left open. The immigration line at an airport at night. Restaurant windows at night in the rain. A squall. Heat lightning of a summer night while the family is out late, burning the brush pile and talking. A car with one headlight. A warning light on your dashboard you’ve never seen before when you’ve just emptied out your savings account. A strong flashlight held to a child’s hand in a dark room, a strong flashlight held in your mouth. Street lights coming on irregularly, or going off, or both. The light native to certain places, like Provence, or the Low Countries, or where the sentimental meteorologist lives. Hazy summer light, clear winter skies, light before a snow: black clouds, bright along the horizon. Natural light, manmade light. A lit apartment seen from a dark apartment. A woman in the bath tub at night seen by whispering boys outside. The light in a church. The light at a funeral not in a church. A light dimming and dying like a pen going dry.

The sentimental meteorologist tells himself that he has the feeling that his soldiers are massing along the border of a country and will invade soon and everything will be okay, but he doesn’t know what country.

Maybe he should have studied geography.

Everyone says fog is caused by water vapor in the air. Duh, thinks the sentimental meteorologist. But how does it get there, in the case of fog? Warm water and cold air? Cold water and warm air? Can’t be the latter, water is usually colder than air, right?

8 responses to “Careers in Science: Sentimental Meteorology

  1. anne

    You can do some really fun split personality dialogues by holding a flashlight over your head and then under your chin.

    The word “fog” is typographically almost as satisfying as the word “bed”. The “f” kind of overhanging the way light diffuses in fog, the o balancing and encircling, the “g” the way fog seems to even curl underground. Right?

  2. The flashes of light from fireflies (lightning bugs) remembered with nostalgia from warm summer nights at my grandparents’ home in eastern Pennsylvania. We don’t have these in California, and I never saw any in Buffalo, NY, but to me, warm summer nights without fireflies will always be lacking something.

  3. Name Required, Esq.

    Fun fact: The light in the Low Countries seems to dispel any lack of self-esteem whatsoever (if you come by it naturally). Don’t know what the meteorologist is supposed to make of that.
    Keep that flashlight in your mouth, Mig.

  4. mig

    I wonder if that’s why the Austrian province where I live is called “Lower Austria”.

    And: I have not put a flashlight in my mouth since hearing my wife’s story about this one time? She was in a bar? With a drunken Japanese fellow? Who took off his pants and jumped onto the table and did what he called a firefly dance?

  5. Sentimental Meteroologist, I loved sharing the sights within your sentimental mind. Fog? Here it is not a problem. Our weatherman talks about something called ‘flumes’. That is, to me, as much an enigma as fog is to you.

    Enjoyed this rant – thoroughly.

  6. mig

    Thank you, Roberta. What are flumes?

  7. Mig, I would have told you if I knew. The Dictionary says ‘flumes’ are narrow gorges with water flowing through them, but the weatherman that particular day seemed to think currents of air are also flumes. It was a puzzling forecast to say the least.

  8. mig

    Meteorology is sounding better as a career choice all the time.