Weather

You know, weather has a remarkable impact on civic engagement.

As much as everyone likes to complain about New England winters, there’s nothing quite as community building as a clumsy hand-wave while shoveling out the walk. And, sure, most of the winter is spent face down and head covered – making interaction with others near impossible. But nothing brings people together quite like those precious moments were you find yourself waiting for a delayed bus with a stranger, or pushing some random person’s car out of the snow.

There’s little opportunity for interaction, perhaps, but the winter brings people together.

The dog days of summer, on the other hand, have a uniquely soporific effect. When its 90 degrees and humid out, I can see everyone just fine. I just can’t muster the energy to interact. I just stare blindly at the world, numbly repeating why is it so hot? to myself. I pass construction workers and mail carriers, glad I don’t have to do their work in this heat. I should offer them some cold water, I think. But I don’t have any cold water. You know what I could really go for? I think. Cold water. I become self-absorbed.

Why is it so hot?

The best days for civil society, are of course those rare perfect-weather days. When the sun in shining but it’s not too hot. People come out in droves. Everyone’s in a good mood. What is this feeling? We wonder, amazed.

In the spring, it’s like we’re mole people who’ve never seen the sun. We’d forgotten it was possible to go outside without feeling like we might freeze to death.

The fall is like a great exhale after the stuffy days of summer. We can go outside without feeling like the Wicked Witch of the West – no more cries of I’m melting! I’m melting!

Perhaps the hardships of winter and summer build solidarity, but it is those rare days of perfect weather when communities truly come together. When we see each other, and greet each other, and celebrate together as one.

Those rare days when somehow it seems that all the troubles of the world have slipped away and there’s nothing left but to sit back and enjoy life.

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