Without a doubt, the weather is probably the most common and most frequently used conversation starter in the world, and certainly on Prince Edward Island. Consider how often the weather is used in a greeting: “Nice day!” “Lovely weather we’re having!” “Lovely day for a walk!” “How’s the weather up there?” “Hello, sunshine!” “Enough rain for you?” In most parts of the world, the weather might be fairly constant. In the Philippines, for instance, there are only two seasons: wet and dry. The dry season is hot and—you guessed it—dry! Wet weather, on the other hand, can be anything from a drizzle to a downpour to an honest-to-goodness typhoon, which occurs approximately 20 times between June and December. As a result, the weather really isn’t a common conversational starter unless it’s to ask during a storm how many inches of water your house went under.
One of the first things I learned when I arrived on PEI is how changeable the weather is. Especially on a bad-weather day, I have heard time and again that if you don’t like the weather, you only have to wait 15 minutes and the weather is likely to change. In reality, it doesn’t always happen that way. I have seen gloriously sunny days stretch on forever and I have seen winter storms trapping people at home for nearly a week.
The one constant, which is probably responsible for the frequent changes in weather, is the wind. In winter and spring, it can be wild and wicked, taking scarves, whipping your coat about, pushing you ahead or knocking you down. For someone with long hair like me, it doesn’t make sense to brush it in this weather because the wind constantly blows it into my face and tosses it in every direction. The good thing about that is, on a dreary day, it also blows the storm clouds away. Unless a downpour is promised, there isn’t any point to carrying an umbrella about because a light drizzle from a blanket of gray clouds quickly disappears as the wind sweeps clouds away and clears the sky. In summer and autumn, the wind is a gentle whisper, cooling down any burning the sun might bring, keeping you fresh whether at the beach enjoying the sun and surf, hiking through a natural park or the confederation trail, reading a book on a city park bench, or traipsing in and out of shops in the city. It’s one of the perks of living on a small island in a temperate climate sheltered within a cove.
Another fairly constant feature of PEI weather is the sunshine. We have lots of sunshine all year round, except on those cloudy days when a storm is brewing and the sky is pelting down precipitation in various forms. Even then, it never stays dark and dreary for days on end and by spring and all throughout summer and fall, we enjoy sunlight anywhere from as little as 8-10 hours a day to as much as 14 hours through the June and July. What can beat that? No wonder people like to talk about the weather so much, half the time, it has to do with trying to guess what the day will bring.
On another note, May is when spring comes into full bloom with temperatures staying above zero and more often hitting double digits at the hottest time of the day. We’ve had our first day of 26 degrees, which was warm and muggy because of the rains, but I don’t hear any complaints because we’ve also had several wonderful sunshiney days, even if the temperature remains at single digits. It’s getting there for sure. While it’s nice and sunny, it might be a little too cool for some people to spend at the beach or out walking, especially if you’re a sedentary writer who prefers to stay indoors and write or read. That and the fact that spring is the prettiest and dressiest season certainly contribute to its being (possibly) the most written-about season of the year in poetry. I imagine spring inspires a lot of positive emotions, hope, light-heartedness, and, of course, love and romance, hence the outpouring of such emotions in poetry throughout the centuries. And because the weather in spring can be as changeable as a young heart’s fancies, it should elicit a more spontaneous outpouring of poesy in writers. So, if you are feeling somewhat uninspired and looking for something to write about, don’t underestimate the weather. Thousands of poems have been written about it and thousands of more will be written. If you can say a great deal about the weather, you certainly will have a lot to write about it as well!