It is interesting to notice how talking about the weather becomes increasingly more important while staying for a longer period (longer than a month) in Scotland. It’s even so prominent, that I can’t help it bring it up once again on this blog. The weather is so unpredictable and changeable that it defines our days. Perhaps it is because we are not accustomed to it anymore, and we have unlearned a certain flexibility to deal with it. Or is it the poetic way that the Scots deal with it?
While I am really fond of a nice warm day, these don’t normally become a major topic of conversation in the places where we experience them on a daily basis. We might occasionally acknowledge that it is once again a beautiful day. As one of my best friends did after a month in Namibia, when she happily noted that it was another beautiful day of sunshine. But most of the time, we just enjoy the day, and make sure we wake up early in the morning, and don’t go for a walk at the hottest time of the day.
But here in Scotland, where for these last couple of weeks, rain is the order of the day, there is no escaping talk about the weather and planning our activities accordingly. To get reliable data, we make use of all possible sources: internet, television and of course the people around us. And if anything, it is for me, listening to the melodious and expressive voice of the Scots, that makes up for the misery we see.
When looking outside into the dark, thick gray matter hanging over land or sea, they first assess whether we deal with clouds that will pass by, a Scotch mist (heavy fog or low lying cloud, both soaking wet) or rain.
Once it has been determined that it will rain, this is followed by a more profound investigation. Are we to expect a dash of rain, consecutive short showers, or is set in for the day. Will it be lashing, pelting or pissing down, or just be damp or drizzly. Or on an even more evocative note, is it bucketing down or just spitting. All pretty important information to plan the day.
It is almost as endearing, as frightening, to hear the Scots continue: is the rain falling vertically, or is it horizontal rain? Will it hammer or drum? Will it be saturating or wringing wet, or is it just a fog?
All very helpful information to choose the right protection, in case you need to defy or camp in the rain. But for me, at the moment, above all, details that make me even more long for a warm spot by the fire.
And of course, like anywhere else, there are drier days, even days some with sun, or more likely with some occasional sun. It is the description used for those days, that strike me again how the language we use is determined by what you experience on a daily basis.
A quick search on the internet, for example, confirmed my suspicion. While the Scots, a bit like the Eskimos with snow, have more than fifty words describing their rain, a similar search for words to describe the more sunnier days came to nothing.
The best one I have heard so far is the description of a day with just about enough sunshine between lots of intermittent showers to dry your clothes before you get wet again.
As if this were a glass half full, they call it a day of sunny showers. While the Scots emphasize the sunny side of such a day, being used to days of endless rain, and highly appreciating the sun, others, who are living in or going on holiday to areas where the weather in the summertime is usually less rainy and a bit more predictable, will be most likely to complain or at least feel disappointed with such a day amidst a week of sun-drenched holiday.
And all this makes me wonder, what to do. At the moment, while staying comfortably in a small apartment in Rothesay, on the beautiful island of Bute, I can handle the rain. There are enough intervals to enjoy short or longer walks, especially knowing there is a warm house and comfortable bed waiting for you at the end of the day.
I am more afraid for the weeks to come, when we plan to walk and camp. Will I be brave enough, just like the Scots, to see it from optimistic side and to engage in the adventure? Will I manage to let go of my fear and aversion for two weeks of rain? Or shall I be realistic, and renounce hope, and slowly start to investigate the options for plan B, so that at least we have a choice.