Posts Tagged ‘weather’














“My hair was over in the grass/ My naked ears heard the day pass.”

These bent-over bushes, usually so tall, look resentful to me: “How can you keep letting this happen?”

“Well,” I respond, “I can’t control the weather.”

And then it occurs to me that I am actually relieved there are still things humans can’t control.

One thing we can control, usually anyway, is our decision making. I often think about how hard it is to make a decision with incomplete information and, when you look back at what you ended up doing, how obvious the choice seems.

Usually I spend two nights in Providence at Suzanne and Erik’s so I can volunteer in a couple Rhode Island ESL classes. But early Monday I had to decide where to spend my blizzard. One report quoted a manageable 2-4 inches. Others said 6-12. I even heard 18 inches was a possibility in places.

Without complete information about the amount of snowfall projected, the time that the blizzard would hit, and the likelihood of classes being canceled, I struggled to decide whether to stay in Providence or go back to Massachusetts.

Another wrinkle: I had promised to take an Eritrean refugee to a parking garage to see if there were any job openings, and I knew that if I left Providence late, I could hit heavy Boston traffic and might have to drive in the dark, which I have been avoiding lately.

In the end, I took The Eritrean student to the garage. The man in charge wasn’t exactly friendly to her, but she was thrilled to have practiced asking for work and to have received a URL for making an online application. She told me she hadn’t had any ideas about how to get started.

A very independent woman, the student insisted on taking the bus home, and I headed north.

As it happened, I was going to be on my own whether in Providence or at home, and today being at home seems so obvious I wonder why I was anxious about making the right choice. At home, my car is sheltered, there’s a greater possibility of someone checking on me, and a reduced likelihood of power failures. (The town has a municipal light plant, and outages are both rare and quickly fixed if they do occur.)

What was your last many-moving-parts decision? Doesn’t it seem obvious to you now?

Bushes to homeowner: “Seriously?”


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Portland, Maine, has a reputation for being welcoming to immigrants and refugees. As a result, newcomers have been giving back, taking seriously their training in how to start a business, for example, hiring people, and boosting the city’s economy.

In this story by Jess Bidgood at the NY Times, we learn about Portland’s “class intended to help immigrants from warm countries cope with the cold.”

Bidgood writes about newcomers “squeezed into a plain conference room at the city’s center for refugee services … to be schooled in a central piece of Portland’s cultural curriculum for its growing population of new arrivals, many of whom are asylum-seekers from Central Africa: the art of handling a Maine winter.

“The instructor, Simeon Alloding, a human services counselor here, sat at the front of the room, ticking off winter’s many perils as clip art images of a penguin and an elephant decked out for cold weather hovered in a PowerPoint presentation behind him. ‘Everyone here has fallen, right?’ Mr. Alloding asked as he began a discussion on how to navigate the city’s icy sidewalks. ‘You don’t walk too fast, you don’t take long steps.’ …

“On this slushy morning, there were more attendees than could possibly find seating, and late arrivals clustered around the entrances to the room, many still wrapped in winter coats and hats despite the stifling heat of the room.”

The refugees help each other with translation, but some questions are hard to answer, like how to know what tomorrow’s weather might be.

“Miguel Chimukeno, from Angola, rose to ask a question in Portuguese, which another student translated to French, which the French interpreter, Eric Ndayizi, posed to Mr. Alloding.

“ ‘He’s low income — zero income — and you said they should watch TV and know some information. How does he get TV?’ Mr. Ndayizi asked.

“ ‘There’s nobody that’s going to issue out TV’s,’ Mr. Alloding said. ‘My only suggestion is that you talk to your neighbors.’ ”


Photo: Craig Dilger for The New York Times

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