By Ernie Williamson
“If you don’t like the weather in (fill in the place), wait a day and it will change.”
Variations on this expression are heard in every region of the country.
Sometimes it’s “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.”
Or it’s “if you don’t like the Kansas weather today, tomorrow will probably suit.”
It is unclear who first uttered the words, but it clearly would not have been a Texan in mid-July.
Waiting a day in these parts hasn’t brought much relief from the heat.
The heat this summer seems relentlessly unchanging unless you think the temperature dropping from 103 one day to 102 the next is a change. Or you think seeing a drop of rain on your car windshield is the significant rainfall forecasters promised.
The only change I have seen in the Texas weather this summer is which adjective the local TV folks use to describe the heat: Scorching, sizzling, stifling, etc.
How hot has it been? No joking here.
So hot that as of the first two weeks in July, the Houston area had an average temperature of 88.5 degrees, a full degree more than the record of 87.5 degrees set in 1980.
So hot that as I write this in mid-July, I no longer go to my neighborhood outdoor pool. I drive across town to use the indoor natatorium.
So hot I let the water in the shower run for a few moments, so I don’t get scalded when I get in.
So hot I keep pushing my afternoon bike ride back later into the day. Soon I will be riding in the dark.
So hot I don’t stick my head out the front door to see the “feel like” temperature.
So hot and dry that I see people on social media praying for a tropical storm. Apparently, these people haven’t heard of 2001’s Allison, a tropical storm that dropped 40 inches of rain, flooding 70,000 houses in the area.
Trapped inside by the oppressive heat with little to do but in need of a column, I started researching who first spoke those words “If you don’t like the weather...”
According to Quote Investigator.com, the quote has often been attributed to Mark Twain, but QI found no real evidence for that.
Will Rogers and the sports columnist and short story writer Ring Lardner have often been credited with the words. QI doubts that also.
The earliest close match located by QI appeared in Field and Stream magazine in January, 1909.
Writer James A. Cruikshank indicated the saying was circulating in Chicago.
He wrote that Chicago had this saying: “If you do not like our weather, wait a minute.”
Cruikshank, however, never named who was saying it.
There is another famous quote about the weather that is attributed to Twain. It seems especially relevant in this era of global warming.
“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it,” the humorist said.
He got that right.
(Contact Ernie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)