vivid picture to
the imagination and was
worth thinking about
According to what I read and watch, a BOMB CYCLONE is heading for the East Coast of the United States.
Whenever bad weather is predicted I think of two things.
The first is that I am glad to be out of it.
That simple sentence, for me, has two meanings.
Living in the Low Country of South Carolina and yet to experience a hurricane, the weather here for the most part is what you might call salubrious (a wonderful word and I put it to you that if you can work it into your conversation today you will feel better) or favorable to or promoting health or well-being.
The proximity to an ocean that won’t go below 50 degrees helps keep most of any weather away that might include the word, “freezing.”
For the most part its warm or at least warmer here than where I grew in West Michigan.
Somewhere in my mind is a passage in a book of all old rich man, sitting in the kitchen of his mansion saying something like, “182 rooms and all I want is the warmest one.”
The other meaning to “glad to be out of it” for me, is that for 20 years I was in the news business and in the news business there is no business like the bad weather business.
After I was on the job about 6 months, creating and managing a website for a local TV station, I got a call that I needed to come up with a way to a list any school closings online.
This list also needed to be able to be updated by the schools themselves.
And if I could somehow figure out how to send out an email with the list of school closings to anyone who wanted it, that would be even better.
“When?”, was my response.
“Tomorrow”, was the answer.
Understand that just a little more than 20 years ago, none of this information was online.
There was no online.
The most fun of my job and creating an online news environment was that I never would say that something couldn’t be done because nothing HAD been done and we did not know what couldn’t be done so we did everything.
And somehow the next morning we had school closings online.
More recently I was involved with the online video streaming of news.
As EB White wrote on the News and weather, “radio [News] people, Nature is an oddity tinged with malevolence and worthy of note only in her more violent moments. The radio [News] either lets Nature alone or gives her the full treatment.
The full news treatment for News Online involved me a lot.
Weekends, after hours, all hours, I was up and online and making sure that the weather got the full treatment.
Now, I am glad to be out of it.
The other thing I think about is an essay, again by EB White.
In fact, it is the essay where that the earlier quote about Nature being an oddity tinged with malevolence comes from.
It is an essay of Mr. White’s that appeared in The New Yorker magazine on September 25, 1954 and is included in the book, The Essays of E.B. White, that you can read online at archive.org.
The title of the essay is, “The Eye of Edna” and it tells the story of Mr. White following Hurricane Edna as it came up the Atlantic Coast.
In 1954, hour by hour radio coverage of a hurricane was something new for Mr. White and the world at large.
I cannot read this essay without comparing the news coverage of 1954 with the news coverage of 2022.
What I think when I make such a comparison is that there is nothing new to the news here.
Mr. White tells how a reporter on the scene of the storm was asked about road conditions.
The hurricane rains and ocean storm surges had been predicted to wipe out local roads.
“They were wet” reported the reporter, who, according to Mr. White, “seemed to be in a sulk.”
In the essay, Mr. White recounts his own efforts to prepare his home for the coming storm.
In the essay, there is this sentence, “The croquet set was brought in. (I was extremely skeptical about the chance of croquet balls coming in through the window, but it presented a vivid picture to the imagination and was worth thinking about.).
The oft-quoted-by-me writer Alain de Botton, used the phrase, I began word-painting.
Starting with the thought a hurricane and wind tossed trees and such.
Then add a croquet set.
Throw in windows, car windshields and maybe someone’s forehead.
Then thinking about how to paint scene this with words, I don’t think anyone could do better than “I was extremely skeptical about the chance of croquet balls coming in through the window, but it presented a vivid picture to the imagination and was worth thinking about.”
29 words and I can see it all in my mind’s eye.
I can see it in my mind and it never happened.
A vivid picture to the imagination.
Something worth thinking about.