Weather Constraints Can Be Liberating

A low-footprint lifestyle can be restrictive sometimes. For example, if your clothes-dryer is a clothesline, you can only do laundry on sunny days. If you choose not to own a car, then some destinations become inaccessible, unless they are on the bus line or you’re willing to pay for a rental car or taxi. (Also, destinations that are a nice walk or bicycle ride away in good weather, can become inaccessible in bad weather.) If you use little or no artificial climate control in your home, then the temperature outdoors will exert a strong influence on what you are willing or able to do that day. Choosing to only eat the produce that’s in season limits the dietary variety that many people, particularly United Statesians, have become used to.

“Bad weather” is a relative term. Usually it’s associated with storms, rain. But, what if the thing you happen to feel like doing on a given day is stay indoors and read a book or watch old movies on TV? Then, for you, a hot blazing sunny day could be bad weather! (Unless you are one of those happy souls who are able to resist the implicit call to activity and industry that “fine” weather makes.)

A day of bad weather can be a welcome treat! (I’ll define bad weather here as “weather that reduces your ability or willingness to go out of your house.”)

There’s something liberating about being weather-constrained. I feel let off the hook for different things at different times. Each new day brings a refreshing variety. The flattened-out quality of modern life, with its constant temperature control and its automated availability of water and dryness, can be (while convenient) monotonous and oddly wearying.

Weather constraints can also be a great aid to decision-making, narrowing down one’s selection of where to work and live; what commitments to take on. I would never live in a place where my body and mind could not endure the prevailing weather. Also, I don’t take on commitments that are beyond my walking or cycling range, unless I’m willing to pay for an Uber should torrential rains and strong winds hit en route.

As for eating in season as much as possible, I love it. It makes me appreciate every fruit and vegetable for the time it’s available.

As I write, the rain that had been teasingly dancing around us for days, always seeming to fall elsewhere (though we got to enjoy the gentle thunder rumbles and tall puffy clouds, and a bit of shade from those clouds) is finally coming down. I’d been planning to go work in a couple of neighbors’ gardens (I’m starting a native & edible landscaping business and am offering free service to my neighbors during the month of August), but it can wait! In the meantime I have plenty of cozy indoor tasks.

How’s the weather at your place today? What kind of weather makes you feel industrious, and what conditions make you want to laze around indoors?

In case you’ve got time and inclination (and favorable weather) for some extra reading, here are a couple of “Scooby snacks” for you:

Some Like It Cool: The Impact of A/C on the South (on How air-conditioning has influenced architecture, industry, and popular culture in the southern United States. (Not always for the better, in the author’s view; a certain charm and grace have faded.)

Lessons from a Car-Free Life (by Leo Babauta on The author and his wife and family of six kids went car-free after years of car-lite. “Limitations can be liberating,” he points out — and he mentions weather as one example: “Sometimes the weather isn’t great — but truthfully, I enjoy getting soaked in the rain. My little ones don’t mind either — they love stomping in mud puddles. We are so used to being in our metal-and-glass boxes that we forget how wonderful the rain is. And when the weather is good, cars isolate you from that. You don’t get to feel the sun on your shoulders…”