The weather is a favourite conversation topic of mine because it’s so important. It guides my moods and plans my movements and generally affects my life to a great degree. I’ve noticed people here don’t talk about the weather much and don’t seem engaged when I talk about it. At first I thought it was a German thing, so I asked a few German friends whether Germans talk about the weather. One suggested that weather-speak may be mistaken for small-talk, which is fair enough.
But my most recent theory is that people here don’t care to talk about the weather much because it’s boring. Hamburg weather is very fickle. Seasons aren’t so much seasons as glimpses of what the season should feel like, before reverting to some horribly unseasonal weather. There’s no continuity, no consistency, no patterns, and bears little consequence to us city folk in the grand scheme of things.
Sure, it affects whether we bring an umbrella or a scarf when we go out. But will a dry spell affect our (city folk’s) growing season? Gar nicht. In Canada, on the other hand, a dry winter with little snow means a dry spring with little snowmelt, which means more forest fires. Although climate change is messing up the normal weather patterns (‘climate weirding’, as the Guardian called it), there are still some semblances of weather patterns and cycles that guide Canadians through the year.
Canadians talk about weather a lot. I get the feeling – and this is unproven speculation – that we have a longer-term perspective and broader understanding of weather than the folks I’ve tried to talk to here. That could also be due to my crummy German language skills, of course.