INDEPENDENT NEWS

Irish Eyes: The Allegorical Weather Forecast

Published: Mon 27 Aug 2001 09:44 AM
Irish Eyes with Greg Meylan in Dublin
The Allegorical Weather Forecast
Occasionally it pays to go back to the old ways, to visit the vaults, to dip one’s toe in history.
The last time we did so we had a brief but enlightened look at the great days of gothic weather reporting, which I think we all agreed , were full of an unbridled passion and intimacy rarely seen before or since. A little overcast and prone to tempestuous outbursts of course and lacking somewhat in modern sensibilities but hearty stuff all the same.
Today then on our visit to the weathering vaults we look at the often overlooked Allegorical Weather Forecast. This is a period you understand when little was actually understood about the elements in enlightened scientific terms.
Often these forecasts then would feature strange beasts and expressed the fears of a superstitious culture, but ultimately there purpose was to reassure that though the natural order was often violent and capable of fury the law of man would always hold its own.
A typical forecast from this era then would begin with your average Everyman on a road and the road would be called the Road of Time and there would likely be a rose upon it (which later gets all muddled up in a poem). Anyway Everyman would be going about his business walking on the Road of Time and he would met Unpleasant Weather who would challenge him to a battle of wits with the loser being thrown in the mud.
‘Everyman’, Unpleasant Weather would say, ‘if there be rain after sunshine and cloud should cover blue what follows then that which follows you?’
Which of course Everyman would have to ponder long on in a rhyming sort of way, thinking perhaps it was his shadow but finally answering correctly ‘Memory follows me, and Forgetting follows Memory’. And Unpleasant Weather would be thrown in the mud.
Now a typical peasant on the land hearing this weather forecast would correctly interpret it to say that next days weather will begin with a lovely dawn followed by a lot of wind and rain before being cleared by bright sunshine but when darkness descends they ought to bring the animals inside.
I think you will agree it was a quaint but not inelegant time in the history of weather forecasting.
- feedback to paloona@yahoo.com

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