Just wait a minute


I haven’t moved over great distances in my life. Only a few hundred miles for the longest move. Still in the northeast. And yet, far enough to know…

EVERYONE thinks the weather in their area is the most unpredictably worst.

Growing up in Rhode Island, I was no stranger to the cliché of: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.” It seemed appropriate. The weather around me… in that Rhode Island sense that includes Connecticut and Massachusetts… was always changing. The idea of seemingly random, massive swings of possibilities, no weather true exclusively for any season seemed like a part of my hometown identity. And, how dare anyone else make a claim to such a distinct concept.

Yup… of course… claim they did.

In upstate New York, in that Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse string, it isn’t uncommon to see swings of fifty degrees (or more) over the course of 24-48 hours. I’ve been in the middle of such New York locations and such New York weather fun on several occasions.

And it’s not just watching the weather change above and immediately beside you.

Oswego Country—specifically Redfield, New York—just over 62-inches of snow falling in late December of 2017. In November of 2014, areas around Buffalo claimed a constant battering of lake effect snow generated measurements between six and seven feet of snow on the ground before Thanksgiving. Yet… draw a circle extending out about five to twenty miles from those massive accumulations, and you might find only marginal, trace amounts on the ground.

In areas with mountains, there are of course are images of people in bathing suits around a pool with snowcapped peaks in the background. Denver, forgetting about the idea of elevation for a minute and the weather influences that may provide, is one place where residents will claim 80-degree days leading to snow warnings for the next.

Chicago says it.

Florida says it.

Oklahoma says it.

Michigan and Texas and… Australia. Yes, there are versions of the saying in Australia. And England. And…

And the list goes on.

Mountains and plains. Lakeside and oceanfront. Coast to coast. Border to border. International as well.

Seems that not too many people are all that thrilled about the inconsistent weather where they live.

And yet… yeah… I’m going to say that southern New England wins the prize.

See… here’s the funny part. The best match for a source of the quote is none other than Mark Twain. More specifically, Samuel Clemens. And it is often offered like this: “If you don't like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.”

Virtually every other claim to the quote appears after Clemens had offered his opinion.

Having lived in upstate New York, I can say that most places do have some amazing weather patterns. For years, my eyes were focused west moving to east, with the occasional glance toward what might be approaching from the south. Around Syracuse? Not south… rather what is coming down from the north. And then add in those wonderous bodies of water, where temperature shifts have it snowing in great amounts virtually without a cloud in the sky.

When I was a student in Syracuse I recall saying something I always found funny, and many of my friends seemed to agree. The idea was that I always believed there were only two seasons in the city, winter and July 4th. And while obviously not true (upstate New York summers can be breathtakingly brilliant), I’m pretty certain that laughing about year-round snow disqualifies a place from weather-changes-on-a-dime bragging rights.

Weather considerations are everywhere. Floods in one region are snowstorms in another, with hurricanes replaced by tornados. There isn’t a place that doesn’t have some “we’re famous for our fill-in-the-blank” weather.

Here’s the best part though… the only thing that truly matters is how you deal with it. If you’re planning a mid-summer barbecue, you don’t want to hear forecasts of a rainy day filled with strong winds and possible thunder and expected highs in the low forties. That would be bad.

We’ve been in the middle of a really brutal cold in the northeast for the past week or so. Several days with single-digit highs, and many places never creeping above 20-degrees. Niagara Falls freezing weather. The other day I went to pick up Terry. As she got in the car and began closing the door, she looked at me.

“Warm tonight,” she observed.

She was right. It did seem rather pleasant. (The temperature was 33-degrees. I wanted to know. I triple-checked.)

You want a summary? Ok. Here’s a fine quote I’ll credit to little old me. “The idea of whether or not the water is hot depends on you. Are you the chef or the lobster?”


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com