Talking about the weather

Published 10:15 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2018

By Holly Taylor

Whenever you don’t have anything to talk about, talk about the weather.

We’ve all heard that before, right? The weather is our conversation filler, just something to occupy the awkward moments between two people before they either find a conversation topic with “substance” or end the conversation completely. It’s something easily forgettable.

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But for farmers and anyone else connected to agriculture, the weather is one of the most important things to talk about. Just about everything is dependent on it.

Temperatures and precipitation amounts determine whether or not the crop will turn out well. One of the years when I worked at a cotton gin, we had about two straight weeks of rain during harvest. Not only did the rain delay the cotton picking by making the fields too muddy for the tractors, but it also ruined the quality of the cotton itself, hurting all the farmers financially.

Imagine investing so much hard work into the ground, and then having that ruined by something as uncontrollable as the weather.

Not many of our conversations about weather at the cotton gin that year were very pleasant.

But as unforgiving as Mother Nature can be sometimes, there are other times when the weather is perfect. The blue sky shines overhead on the exact day you prayed to see the sunshine. A summer shower passes through at just the right time to keep the leaves on the corn stalks from starting to curl.

Growing up as a farmer’s daughter, I remember so many conversations about the weather. Sometimes the conversations left me anxious and praying for better weather. Sometimes they left me rejoicing.

I can remember back in the day when we didn’t have smartphones with easy internet access, so my dad would call us from out in the field somewhere, asking us to check the radar for any storms headed his way. Before he had a cell phone at all, he’d just have to rely on looking up at the sky.

If you really pay attention to how amazing nature is, you’ll find that the weather isn’t such a boring conversation starter after all.

Not too long ago, for example, I sat on the porch of my parents’ house to watch a thunderstorm pass by. My dad called me out there to see some “cool clouds.”

It was around sunset, so those “cool clouds” were a mix of shifting colors: yellow and pink and orange mixed with the dark gray of the lower storm clouds underneath. We stood at the edge of the porch looking up as the storm clouds twisted and expanded like dark blossoming flowers. Every now and then, a flash of lightning would light up the clouds as if someone from above was snapping a photograph.

In the distance across a nearby field, we could see streaks of rain falling fast. In some spots, the rain was so heavy the world just looked like a blur, like the field before us was merely a smudged painting.

I’ve stood on that porch to watch countless thunderstorms pass by, but I’m still amazed every time at how the world looks and sounds and smells and feels when it does. The weather is so unpredictable, and yet it’s still so important to so many people.

So whenever you don’t have anything to talk about, try talking about the weather.


Holly Taylor is a staff writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, a sister paper of the Suffolk News-Herald. Contact her at or 252-332-7206.