Hunt for Steel
Preface & Reader Response
She was a sage and a mild curse in our town.
LADY WITH A WEATHER STATION
by Jerry Murley
In our neighborhood there was a lady who could read the weather. More precisely, she possessed a weather station passed to her from her father. She attended to it daily, hourly. She so talked about the weather that friends knew when every rain storm and cold wind would come. Her closest companions reported that when the weather was about to turn very, very cold, they felt they endured the frigid conditions twice as long, for days before cold arrived and for days after cold left.
She was a sage and a mild curse in our town. She could accurately foresee when plans would be upended and was the first to help forestall looming catastrophes before they happened.
I was young as she grew old and liked to visit her as much as she would have me. Her world was full of signs and there were specific ways that repetitive measurements could help people read the meaning. Some, I overheard, referred to her as a trickster, others as a pest. But most listened and benefitted from her foretelling. I benefitted most, as I also learned how carefully and lovingly she went about her work of seeing the patterns in nature that revealed the weather days in advance.
For example, I most vividly remember the time when I was about to leave with my friends for a night camping in the hills. She asked me to reconsider going on the trip and advised me to tell my friends to delay the adventure. She was very calm about it but insistent. She explained to me that there might be a particularly strong rain storm that night. Then she showed me the evidence she collected on which she based her conclusion.
I did tell my friends about her prediction. I decided not to go on the trip, as I did not want to go anyway. But most of my friends shrugged off my arguments – I was not as persuasive as she had been with me. Sure enough, my friends came home wet and miserable from the night out. Some had hazarded crossing fast-rising waters in the streams to get back home.
That episode altered me in a significant way. The lady with the weather station had looked at measurements and trends and given me a choice. I fully realized that I had influence over what happened to me and that influence depended on reliable knowledge, not just on the emotions of my friends and me, or those of the wise lady herself.
She is long gone from our town now and missed by no one more than me. But she was quickly missed, as people had no one to forecast the weather, to look to a store of knowledge and skill with measures to foresee better paths. They were as sheep lost on a rocky hillside at night in a storm without a watchman, without a trusted guide.
The townspeople did not remain lost for long, though. The lady with the weather station bequeathed her measuring devices, charts, and methods to me. Now I enjoy consulting her legacy daily, hourly, to advise my neighbors and to round out my day observing nature's ways. Now I have you, dear young friend, to prepare in the purpose and ways of this splendid art so that you can help yourself and your neighbors come to best advantage in changing weather.
The measures and readings were not the private possession of the lady with the weather station. They were the legacy of mankind before her, a gift to the many to follow – those who honor the science by slowly building on it and passing it to capable devotees who will use such skills wisely.