Let’s talk about the weather

The temperature soared to the mid-90s over the weekend of May 22. Some took it as a sign to unpack their summer wardrobe; others raced to local beaches; while others may have further contemplated the effects of climate change. On Biodiversity Day, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg launched a video, urging humanity to move toward a plant-based diet as an effort to help save our planet, noting that the “climate-ecological-and health crisis are all interlinked.”

Weather has been a topic of conversation through the ages. Never has it felt more vital. Yet, while the term “weather” evokes typically conventional associations – tsunamis, tornadoes, and a myriad of storms, droughts, and cataclysmic conditions, weather can also connote the very atmosphere in which we live.

In Claudia Rankine’s poem, “Weather,” she writes of our recent history: a pandemic year during which not only did a virus plague our existence, but it was a time made even more unbearable for the Black community. “… Just us and the blues kneeling on a neck with the full weight of a man in blue … There’s an umbrella by the door, not for yesterday but for the weather that’s here. I say weather but I mean a form of governing that deals out death and names it living. I say weather but I mean a November that won’t be held off. This time nothing, no one forgotten. We are here for the storm that’s storming because what’s taken matters.”

The storm, although feeling like it has subsided, is still raging. Violence continues to be perpetrated on sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers through the words and actions of others. The weather we are dealing with affects us all. We are coping with what we have endured, and continue to do so, carving out paths to tentatively move forward.

On June 10 at 10:30 a.m., after over a year of meeting virtually, the library’s Fiction Book Group will be convening outdoors at the Princeton Shopping Center, to discuss a different “Weather,” by Jenny Offill. The protagonist, a librarian, begins a side job answering the letters sent to her mentor, an expert on climate change, all the while navigating her relationship with her depressed brother, and the people who have become part of her daily existence, and trying to hold it together as a new president is elected, amidst thoughts of a looming apocalypse. Consider joining us as we begin to create a new path forward.

Photo by Kristin Friberg.

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