Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Weather and the Writer

I’m sure that, if you’re a writer, you’ve used weather to set the mood or to impede your intrepid main character, or something like that.

But how do your own personal attitudes color your writing? If you love spring, do you use fall and winter--maybe even summer--for hostile settings? If you love fall, could you describe spring lovingly?

I love winter. I dwelt on the cold a lot in my one (so far) Neanderthal novel. In fact, one day I finished up a writing session that had gone on for two or three hours. I had been writing of the impending doom of the cold season and the scarcity of game. I had literally been shivering and my toes were icy. But when I woke up from writing, I was shocked to notice that it was the depth of August in Texas and it was, in fact, sweat-dripping hot out. When the sun coming in the window hit my eyes, I blinked, it was so bright after the darkness where I’d been.

Everywhere I’ve lived, April has been a lovely month. Spring is easy to like, tender blossoms and color bursting forth from ground that looked dead so recently. 

Autumn is gorgeous almost everywhere, too--everywhere that it occurs. That time of year gets my blood going. I can easily write about the colors of the trees and shuffling my shoes through the dry, crackling leaves.

Could I write about summer so lovingly? I’m not sure. We lived in Texas for nearly thirty years and each year, more and more, I dreaded the advent of summer. (There are only two seasons in Texas, after all: summer and another season that is not summer.) Now, living in Tennessee, I’m overjoyed at the frosty mornings and the fact that I can wear sweaters without discomfort. I even bought a pair of boots to wear with skirts. Heretofore, for many years, I’ve worn sandals nearly year round. 

What’s your favorite season, and how does that affect what you write?

Some seasonal poetry for your pleasure--here’s the Middle English poem about summer:

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing, cuccu;
Groweth sed
and bloweth med,
And springth the wode nu;
Sing, cuccu!

Awe bleteth after lomb,
Lhouth after calue cu;
Bulluc sterteth,
Bucke uerteth,
Murie sing, cuccu!

Cuccu, cuccu,
Wel singes thu, cuccu;
Ne swic thu naver nu.

Sing, cuccu, nu; sing, cuccu;
Sing, cuccu; sing, cuccu, nu!

[Spring has arrived,
Sing loudly, cuckoo!
The seed is growing
And the meadow is blooming,
And the wood is coming into leaf now,
Sing, cuckoo!

The ewe is bleating after her lamb,
The cow is lowing after her calf;
The bullock is prancing,
The billy-goat farting,

Sing merrily, cuckoo!
Cuckoo, cuckoo,
You sing well, cuckoo,
Never stop now.

Sing, cuckoo, now; sing, cuckoo;
Sing, cuckoo; sing, cuckoo, now!]

Then there’s this parody by Ezra Pound:

Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damm you; Sing: Goddamm.
Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.
Sing goddamm, damm, sing goddamm,
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

pictures from


  1. Ezra Pound may have had it right!
    I'm envious that you now dwell in a place that has four seasons. I'm still in Texas where it's hot all summer and is alternately hot and chilly in winter, maybe.
    I have found that you can plant a red oak here and it will have red leaves in fall. A future project, perhaps. Enjoy your winter and your nice winter clothes. I'm still wearing sandals.

  2. Did I mention I bought boots?? I love them!