Tuesday, May 13, 2008

as long as it's talking with you, talk of the weather will do

the other day at the beer garden in riergrovy sady, drew acknowledged what most of us were thinking: all we talk about these days is the weather.

it's finally warm here in prague. like, really warm, not just the tease of a balmy day in the middle of february -- and suddenly it has become 100 times more pleasant to live here.

winter here was strange. it wasn't all that cold - in fact i can think of maybe 2 weeks of the whole winter, one just before christmas and one in february -- when it was really cold. other than that, it was a manageable cold. still cold enough for a jacket, but not so cold that you thought about throwing yourself in front of the 9 tram because it wasn't the 24.

it wasn't a bitter cold winter here, but it was bleak. the sky had been gray since september. i mean i can remember several fucking cold days in the pittsburgh winters i grew up in, but it never seemed quite as dreary and depressing as a mild winter in the czech republic. i've lived through blizzards and states-of-emergency due to ice storms and negative windchills but the sun always seemed to shine. and spirits were usually high with the hope of spring being right around the corner. even with such extremes, in pittsburgh we at least had 4 seasons. in the czech republic, it seems like there are two: summer and depression.

but summer is finally here. summer, not spring. on the first page of "a moveable feast" hemingway writes about the weather in paris, describing it thusly:

"then* there was the bad weather. it would come in one day when the fall was over. we would have to shut the windows in the night against the rain and the cold wind would strip the leaves from the trees in the place contrescarpe."

the phenomenon that hemingway describes about paris's bad weather arriving is exactly how prague's warm weather arrived. one day it was in the low 40s and rainy and the next it was 75 and sunny and hasn't looked back since.

so, seemingly overnight, everyone is in a better mood. we're all walking to work, walking all the way to town just because we can, making extra trips to the store just to enjoy the sunshine. we've spent every night out at the beer garden (which is a european phenomenon that i give an enthusiastic two thumbs up) because drinking outside is far superior to drinking indoors. the weather's newfound clemency has even painted a new coat on the freakshow that usually congregates outside hlavni nadrazi. the lawn almost looks inviting now. almost.

consequently, about 80% of our conversations either revolve around the weather or begin with a comment like "it is SO nice out today" or "i can't beLIEVE how warm it is." i suppose it seems like empty small talk, but it's the only thing on our minds. i guess rightly so - weather affects what you eat, what you wear, what you do for fun, where you live, your demeanor. wars are fought over weather. weather has given a lot of people (namely al gore) a career. so maybe it's not such small talk.

or maybe we don't have anything better to talk about... just like i don't have anything better to write about.

*that is the first two sentences of "a moveable feast" and can i say how big a fan i am of beginning a book with the word then? genius.

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