Springing up a storm

As I get older I become more sensitive to, and obsessed with, the weather, and not just day to day but hour to hour. I make assiduous use of the “hourly” button at weather.com to get a sense of how 2 p.m. is going to compare to 9 a.m., and then plan my day accordingly. I’ve canceled lunch plans due to excessive sunshine. Sorry, can’t be indoors then. Movie? Let me check the forecast.

I believe in spring, just as I believe in the morning. The start of a new day, a new month, or a new season is a good excuse to make aspirational lists. These are goals that likely will never be achieved; they may be delusional from the get-go. But to be fully alive one must feel surges of hope. You have to believe in yourself, insane as that may be. Look at the world and its gift of renewal, its innate vigor. It’s so inspiring, particularly when you ponder that any day now there’s going to be “$5 beer and peanuts night” at the ballpark.

Life is short and I don’t want to miss a single minute of sublime weather. But if it’s going to be cold, rainy, raw, gloomy, miserable and soul-crushing, I see an opportunity to do taxes, or fill out insurance claims, or perhaps even report for work.

If it’s chilly but dry, and I can find a good flannel shirt with a lumberjack vibe to it, I’ll split firewood. I need to know the likely mud quotient on my hiking trails, not because that affects the footwear (I only have one pair of plausible boots at the moment) but because it affects the pants (spattering issues). Backyard fires are contingent upon the wind. Grilling is contingent upon precipitation. Going to the office instead of sitting on my porch is contingent upon the temperature. There are just so many things to keep track of, and we haven’t even discussed the barometric pressure.

There’s so much happening in the world these days that’s really important, and one of my big goals for the spring is to pay as little attention as possible to that stuff. Sure, I want to be informed, but only to a point. There are only so many rooms vacant in the rustic mountain lodge that is my brain. I’m re-reading The Killer Angels, for example, and I need room for Longstreet and Lee, and don’t want to clutter up my head with the new Obama budget. Though, I confess, I do follow that, too. This is budget week, the wonk’s version of the Final Four.

Speaking of which: I may have to take a nap today after watching that game last night. It was one of the best, wildest, most exhausting college basketball games in memory, made all the more chaotic by the seeming inability of the referees to blow a whistle even when players were whacking each other with chairs or kicking the basketball as if it were soccer. I was pulling for Michigan, because so much of my money goes there, and the players did their school proud even if, in the end, Louisville was the better team.

Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post's national desk and on the "Achenblog."

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