An Animated Oratory On Fog and Drizzle
'TWAS Charles Dudley Warner who wrote that everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it (Hartford Courant, 1897). I am happy to report that somebody has. One of our television stations here in Maine lately acquired a new weatherman who presents the evening forecasts with an animated zeal worthy of a Garrick or Irving, or both, and he has lifted Maine weather from its drab past into a modern art form that makes, for instance, Aeschylus look like a piker with his feeble "Seven Agains t Thebes."
We are now getting portents and ministrations on a par with the last scene of "Hamlet," and with the tender charm of "Ode to a Grecian Urn" and the mighty surge and thunder of the "Odyssey." It has taken me, and others, a little while to get accustomed to the new weather, but it certainly is an improvement over anything in the dreary foregone.
Our earliest Maine forecasters did little but stick a wet finger into the air and say, "P'aps rain, p'aps not." Our prognostications ran largely to the established formula, "Rain Monday and Tuesday, followed by Wednesday."
We couldn't do anything about our weather, because we got it from Nova Scotia and that province had it copyrighted as a method of advertising fish. A fog moving in over the Bay of Fundy always smells of salt cod.
This fellow is good. He's not a state o' Mainer, I'm sad to admit, but comes from afar, or "away," and studied dramatics in some place out West or down South where a promised shower is obliged to shower.
Nobody with a Maine background would ever give a thought to doing anything about the vagaries of a no'theast wind, and consequently would never think of the simple expedient of elocution and histrionics.
It is amazing what this chap can do by exerting his talent with applied emotions to a snowsquall that strips the flag off the library pole. He advances as in a lunge to emphasize the high tide, retires to adjust his profile, and then comes to the proscenium as in "Spartacus to the Gladiators" to orate that seas will run to six feet.
True, he has the same difficulties with Maine weather that have plagued our experts since Samuel de Champlain went through Fox Island Thoroughfare in 13 seconds elapsed time because the wind shifted with the tide. No matter how artfully one foretells salubrity, Fox Island Thoroughfare is tricky.
This chap lately promised a blizzard and had us cringing in the dire distress of a "storm watch," and the oratory was handsome. This led the school people to cancel all activities, and we had a cat-track dusting, or what old-timers called a robin snow. It was the first robin snow in Maine history that enjoyed the rhetoric and Thespian gestures of a national disaster.
There was a medium storm in my boyhood that lacked all these modern advantages of scientific and literary forecasting. This was before radio, and what the elements were about to do got little publicity beyond somebody's, " 'Pears 's-if't might smear in and get tacky afore moon-up s-cold enough to snow."
"Feels like snow," made a good reply.
So we went to bed expecting to see some snow. No flowery language, no out-heroding Herod, no strutting and fretting upon the sock and buskin, and no polemics - we knew better than to have settled opinions about the weather. The next morning Uncle Timothy had to crawl out a second-story bedroom window and wallow to the barn for a shovel. Then he dug out our back shed door so we youngsters could go to school. I remember what the teacher said: "Now, people, stomp your feet good - we don't want all this snow
in the cloakroom, do we? And hurry along - we're five minutes late already !"
None of us entertained the faintest idea that simple weather would one day be play-acted on a television set and a talented young man could make a living by articulating a line-storm so it sounds much like the arrival of Venus, herself, in the "Romance of the Rose." Realize, of course, that the line-storm may fizzle out, and the rose is left wasting its fragrance on a desert air. On the other hand - at least somebody has at last done something about the weather.