Posted by R. Ann Siracusa 04-10-2015
Talking about the weather is one of the most trite topics of conversation. Yet weather plays a role and sometimes a significant one, in mood...the mood of people in real life, those in novels, and the setting.
It provides many metaphors for our changeable minds, and this can be readily observed in movies and songs. How many song titles can you think of that set the mood with reference to the weather?
Moods can lighten or become darker. Relationship can be stormy. Futures can be clouded and dispositions, sunny. Similar to the weather, human emotions are as fickle as the forces of nature.
"Though April Showers may come your way..."
To me, the words April Showers evoke the mental image of walking hand in hand with someone you love under softly falling drizzle. Or, perhaps, sitting in front of a blazing fire with a glass of wine. Both very romantic images. A soft, gentle, intimate mood.
Sometimes, April Showers sets a lonely, sad, or wistful mood..
"Stormy weather...Keeps rainin' all the time."
Stormy Weather is something else. That makes me envision thunder and lightning. Hard rain. Strong win ds and roofs ripping off. Falling tree branches. Violent arguments. Maybe even panic and fear.
And below the 60th parallel south, the official boundary of Antarctica, rain in April is anything but a soft drizzle that brings the flowers in May. It's Stormy Weather.
"Baby, it's cold outside."
I recently returned from a trip from Argentina to Antarctica, and I'd like to share with you what it's like in the southern hemisphere in April. It's fall there and bad weather can close in quickly. This area is known by the endearing name of The Screaming 60s because the prevailing westerly winds can reach 90 miles per hour and can generate waves over fifty feet high.
The ocean is always rough in Drake Passage, the five hundred miles of open sea between Cape Horn, Chile, and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica.
It's where the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans connect. Rough seas and stormy weather make for a perfect storm.
This is what the weather looked like when we left Ushuaia, Argentina, and headed for the Drake Passage..
The waves were seventeen feet high going from Cape Horn to Antarctica and the ship rolled. It was frightening at times.
As we approached the continent of Antarctica it began to snow; not a lot, but enough to be very cold. Some people were brave enough to be in the spa during the snow storm. The mood was amazement and playful. Everyone was having fun.
Once we reached Antarctica and Paradise Bay, the mood changed to one of awe.
Ice bergs are composed of fresh water which has broken off a glacier or ice shelf. Since pure water is lighter than sea water, only one tenth of an ice berg is above the salt water. The ship actually took on an ice pilot for this part of the cruise.
Neither April Showers nor Stormy Weather weather keep the Elephant Island penguins at home. They are out and about in just about any weather, on the ice bergs and in the water. Having fun.
Toward evening the weather cleared up a bit and the sun came out in time for a spectacular sunset. That was beautiful and set a hopeful mood, promising that tomorrow would be better.
"In The Mood"
Don't waste dialogue to talk about the weather. Use weather to set the mood. Weather provides a vivid language for describing the emotional atmosphere of the setting.