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Saturday morning quotes 2.14: The weather

August 25, 2012

“Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”

The famous quote that is frequently and mistakenly attributed to Mark Twain is actually by his contemporary and colleague, Charles Dudley Warner (1829 – 1900).  Warner was, like Mark Twain, an adventurer, a nineteenth-century wit, a journalist and a keen observer of the developing industrial world and its manifold  peculiarities.

But Warner also wrote about one of the two consuming pastimes that occupy this household.  One is, of course, the familiar theme of very old music for voice and lute, and the other is gardening.

“The principal value of a private garden is not understood. It is not to give the possessor vegetables or fruit (that can be better and cheaper done by the market-gardeners), but to teach him patience and philosophy and the higher virtues, hope deferred and expectations blighted, leading directly to resignation and sometimes to alienation. The garden thus becomes a moral agent, a test of character, as it was in the beginning.”

Summer in a Garden, and Calvin, A Study Of Character, Charles Dudley Warner

Successful gardening is as vitally dependent upon the whims of the weather as successful concertizing is dependent on the state of the economy:

“I have never in nearly 30 years of forecasting seen such an anomalously warm month.”

– Guy Walton, Lead Forecaster, The Weather Channel Blog

“Global warming is making hot days hotter, rainfall and flooding heavier, hurricanes stronger and droughts more severe.  This intensification of weather and climate extremes will be the most visible impact of global warming in our everyday lives. People who have the least ability to cope with these changes–the poor, very old, very young, or sick–are the most vulnerable. ”

National Wildlife Federation

Lest we delude ourselves into thinking that the discomfort of summer weather is a uniquely modern phenomenon, we refer the letters of Pietro Aretino:

But who could endure the bestial entertainment of the fleas, bedbugs, gnats and flies and all the other annoyances of the summer season? You lie on the sheets, naked as a new born babe, dependent for a fan upon the mocking services of a treacherous family servant who leaves you there as soon as he thinks your eyes are closed, and you wake in the middle of the finest sleep and turn over on your other side to sweat some more; you take a drink, sigh and, turning over again, you long to flee from yourself and, if possible, to disappear from your own sight, so great is the importunity of the heat, which annihilates you in a universal perspiration.

– Aretino, July 10th, 1537

About that “treacherous family servant”, we are daily dismayed by the complete absence of household staff at our digs here in the woods. Does anyone know when they plan to arrive?

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