WHETHER WEATHER

A day ago Mother Nature put fourteen inches of snow on the ground on the flat. In doing so, the temperature dropped down to a negative twenty-three Farenheit. Stayed cool and cold for four or five days. Whether the weather’s good depends on who you might be, where you might be, and perhaps the answer to why is there air? I remember calling my Dad from the office in Ventura, California, asking him “How’s things, Pop?” He’d tell me whether it had rained, whether it hadn’t; whether it ought to, and whether the grass was growing properly, rain or no. It didn’t matter when or why or such: that was our conversation.

I grew up a weather prodigy. When I was four years old and living in Grass Range, Montana, the Old Man and I walked the mile to the mailbox down the hill, around the bend, beyond the trees and on the roadway. It was slushy, snow melting; it was fun stomping your booted feet in melting snow, sending it flying everywhere, getting wet. One half hour later we walked back and we walked on top of it. The weather had dropped sixty three degrees in less than an hour. No more stomping. It was miserable. We had to hurry or freeze.

That winter averaged forty below. We had yearlings freeze to death. In the spring when I escaped the house, the Old Man showed their corpses to me. The maggots, magpies, coyotes, and vultures had already found them. It was our last year in Montana. Do you know why it stormed, why it was so cold, why snow drifted along the eves of our house? It was because the old man and I, on January 3, 1950, went outside and shot at the moon. Bam, bam, bam. Burned up a box of fifty. The next day we walked down to the mailbox on splashy water and walked back on crusted ice. The old man never shot at the moon again. I don’t either.

In 1961 we lived in Kane on the Big Horn. On a Saturday afternoon my Old Man tried pushing a four year old cow around in the chute corral. She kicked his knee in. She didn’t care for any penicillin, no sulfur pills the size of small watermelons. He spent the rest of the winter on the couch patting a plaster of paris cast, watching his ligaments mend. I did the chores, fed the cows, slopped the hogs. Following that incident, it was forty below for three months: January, February and March. Afterwards I don’t remember the old man ever pushing a four year old cow around in the chute corral. He was kinder, more careful. I certainly never did and it hasn’t been that cold since. In saying that I have a ball and P; I’m knocking on wood, pounding it hard. There is some logic here, some reason in whether there’ll be weather, why old wives have tales, and how it is that eight penny nails always find six-ply tires. You tell me. Grhowe