It’s a habit of mine to check the daily weather report. I look at my little weather box on igoogle, and breathe a sigh of relief when the weather icons show a yellow sun, with maybe a poofy cloud to the side. The little happy sun face tells me I’ve been spared Armageddon for one more day. All is right with the world when that sun face pops up—at least here in Bloomington when November is not normally a month that is about sun faces at all.
Recently, I’ve been taking notice of the weather in a different way. On my forest walks, I spend some time bringing a very focused awareness to the interface between my body, my heart, and the weather. Down in the hollows, there are microclimates and weather shifts every few feet. In one place, the air is starkly cold as I walk along to the tunes of the creek. The water brings a wet chill that rises from my feet up to my face. Turning round the bend, a breath of warmer air caresses my face. Now, maybe, there is a streak of sun that lances down out of a sky full of fat dark clouds. Or suddenly the sun breaks through for a bit and the entire forest sparkles in light.
Then, the cloud returns and I feel the cold settle back over my shoulders.
Sometimes, the wind plays down in the hollows, with a blast or a whisper, or a gentle and steady song. Then, perhaps, it will suddenly stop and go utterly still. Some mornings, the air fairly crackles in the forest. Other mornings, it is soft…
I wrinkle my forehead in concentration to keep my focus on these tiny shifts in temperature, light, sound, and wind current. Then, I drop my focus one level deeper and allow myself to register how each of these tiny shifts in the outer climate affect my interior climate.
The dialogue between outer and inner climate looks something like this: A cloud is dark overhead, coloring the bare trees near black. Inside, I am quiet, attentive, somber. Here comes a brief blast of cold air from the creek. I recoil inside my skin. Now, a shaft of sunlight reaches out and touches my arm. I feel my body relax. The clouds part, letting in the full glory of the sun, and I feel my whole body smile. A small current of wind grabs my hair, and I feel myself respond to it in a way that is powerful but far too subtle for me to put into words. I am touched and I respond. I can’t not repond.
On days when the wind is really roaring in the hollows, I walk with a body sense of anxiety. My back is tense, and so is my face. My heart tells me to “hurry, hurry, hurry,” but I haven’t a clue what or where to hurry. Just to hurry. In brief moments when the wind dies down to catch its breath, I exhale, never realizing I’ve been holding my breath.
Some days, the weather does not seem as volatile or changeable, or I perhaps I am just not able to notice the little changes because my focus is too scattered. And when my focus is scattered, and I don’t register the tiny changes, I realize that I am less present and less-alive.
I can’t always put all my mental energy on the tiny movements of the weather, of course. There are things to be done, and plans to be made, and kitchens to be swept. But even when I am not in conscious intimate relationship with the whispers of the weather, I know that the weather never stops plucking the strings of my body and heart—not for one moment.
I may not “hear” the shaft of light that reaches my face through the living room window, or notice when the wind dies down to nothing after roaring for hours outside, but my body, I believe, hears and absorbs and enfolds every tiny nuance of the Earth’s voice as she speaks to me in this precious way—the daily weather report.