Patched Out: When the Passage of Time Plasters Over Nostalgia
A short read, brought back by some old memories of my childhood home:
I recently did some straightening up around my apartment and stumbled on an old piece of nostalgia. Tucked behind some of my painting supplies, I found an old weather stick. If you’ve never had one: it’s a twig cut from a balsam fir that sticks up when the weather will be good, and straight down when bad.
Without any humidity to speak of, they don’t really work our in Colorado. But growing up back East, it was a different story.
My family has a little cottage on the water where I spent all my summers. The place is cozy. The furniture’s rustic, some homemade, and none of the cutlery matches. My great grandparents put everything they had into their dream, from the locust post foundation — now aided by cinderblocks — to the mint-green paint the salt air seems to blast off the shingles every odd year.
This is no resort; until a few years ago, we didn’t have cell service or internet. Our TV has no cable, just a few channels it picks up on the old halo antenna. It didn’t pick up local news, so we turned to other sources to figure out what the weather was doing.
Hence: the weather stick. At the start of every summer, we screwed that twig into the side of the house, right next to the bedroom window where it was easy to see.
The thing is infallible, but not specific enough to plan your day around.
To nail down the particulars, we listened to the broadcast on our hand-held boat radio. One of my most vivid childhood memories is the precise way the computer voice would mispronounce words while reading the forecast.
“Wind speeds, ten to fifteen knots. Chance of showers, and thun-DUR-storms.”
I flipped the radio on last time I was home, and I was crushed. The bastards fixed it; they patched out the old robotic voice and replaced it with one that sounds almost human. I hadn’t been that disappointed in a long time.
A certain sobering sadness comes with the realization your memories are just that: memories. Never again will I hear that clunky computer voice stumbling over long words. The still before the storm, the smell of ozone, and the sound of the rain racing across the water are gone too.
I just wish I had realized how important it all was, back then.