Demon weather

I reverently believe that the Maker who made us all makes everything in New England but the weather. I don’t know who makes that, but I think it must be raw apprentices in the weather-clerk’s factory who experiment and learn how, in New England, for board and clothes, and then are promoted to make weather for countries that require a good article, and will take their custom elsewhere if they don’t get it.

—Mark Twain, ‘Speech on the Weather’

And what happens to the apprentices who flunk out of the New England weather factory? They get sent to Alberta, that’s what.

Where Angels Die is fiction, mostly, and rather fantastical fiction at that, but there are one or two points on which it draws from life with stark and unvarnished realism. One of these is what I have called the ‘demon weather’. When the demons attack a warm, temperate or subtropical country like Anai, the first sign of their appearance is that the weather goes sour. Winter lasts for eight or nine months of the year, the sun is blotted out by a perpetual overcast, and when it should by nature be spring or autumn, it stays just cold enough to snow, and just warm enough to let some of the snow thaw now and then so it can refreeze as iron-hard ice, just to keep the locals busy and entertained. Much like this:

Beautiful spring in sunny Alberta

This, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly the kind of weather we have been having here in the Frozen North through the whole of April so far. Once or twice I have seen the sun, but the clouds moved in quickly to censor it again. At the moment we are having one of our miniature thaws. I call it a thaw, because some of the snow on the ground melts, but not any of the ice. Meanwhile it keeps right on snowing, in a lazy and desultory way. At night the temperature dips solidly below freezing (it touched zero degrees Fahrenheit a day or two ago), and the snow-melt turns to slick black ice. When morning comes, the ice is cleverly concealed beneath a fresh dusting of snow, and the cycle repeats.

I have been gobbling Vitamin D supplements, but even so, this weather – and this much of it – is, I frankly admit, wearing me down. It is hard to get up the gumption to write, or to do anything else but the bare minimum of daily chores.

I therefore call upon you, my 3.6 Loyal Readers, for help. If any of you are living in warm and sunny climes, where the demons never reach and the weather-factory turns out a decent article suitable for export, see if you can find it in your hearts to send us a degree. Fahrenheit or Celsius makes no difference; send whatever you can spare. Five extra degrees will make each day’s snowfall run off before nightfall, putting a stop to the glaciation underneath. Ten degrees will stop the nightly freeze-out. Fifteen degrees (if so many generous souls respond to this impassioned plea) will banish the demons and apprentice weather-clerks back where they came from, to Hades or Hartford or wherever they rightly belong, and bring thousands of suffering Canadian children their first true experience of spring. Flowers will bloom, grass will grow, and the Earth itself will turn more happily on its axis. Do it for the Children, for the Planet, or for the rich and noble tax deduction.

Please give generously; or else keep your distance until June.


  1. I do wish two other people had responded first, so that I might give you the third degree.

    Still… here are 3 degrees. Fahrenheit, Celcius, of Separation? Take your pick.

    • I’ll take Celsius to save foreign exchange fees. You can keep as many degrees of Separation from this muck as you like, with my blessings.

  2. Andrew Brew says

    I would gladly send you a tenner, Tom, for we are heading for a maximum of 33 Celsius today, here in autumnal Sydney. Will Australia Post accept pure heat for transport by air, I wonder, in a suitable magnetic bottle? I must enquire at the post office.

  3. Send them all to Alberta. True, we’ve been snowed on here, but not like THAT.

    Scrapped frost off my car yesterday and today. . . .

  4. Others can give only occasionally, but I live one degree north of the Equator and am prepared to send ten (read ’em…TEN!) Celsius degrees per day ad infinitum! It would help me out too, bringing the heat down to a more bearable 23 degrees, even though we still have to cope with 80+% humidity. Win-win though. If someone could detail the type of magnetic containers required for this volume, I’d be happy to send it FOB.

  5. Carlos Carrasco says

    Here’s beaming five @ you from the evergreen lowlands of South Carolina!

  6. Ack! It is worse some place else than it is beside Chicago! Oh the humanity! I had no idea!

    I’d love to send some, but we’ve got none to spare. My new bees are coming this weekend, and they will be welcomed by two consecutive nights of hard freezes. Hope the bee company packs them with tiny little bee sweaters.

    I’m thinking of having some of my herd of children knit tiny sweaters for my flock of chicks that were ordered with the assumption that they could be outside in APRIL!!!

    OK, fine, it hasn’t snowed since April 5th, maybe we can spare a degree. But, it will be Fahrenheit. We don’t brook with the Devil’s metric units down here.

  7. L Jagi Lamplighter (Wright) says

    My father believed (or rather told his children) that weather was under the control of two guys named Bill and Joe. Every time we would plan a picnic and it would rain, my father would say “Here we are, outside on this lovely day, and then ‘Hey, Joe, turn on the rain!'” My father would often talk about “Hey, Joe…” this or that…relating to unexpected changes in the weather. Only I knew about Bill, because one day I asked the name of the person talking to Joe. He said it was Bill.

    I bet Joe and Bill are those apprentices that Twain mentioned.

    You are welcome to have the heat we have today. I will try to figure out how to ship it.

  8. E. Crook says

    I can sympathize with your plight; we have had flurries of demon weather in my particular part of the world since approximately mid-November. I don’t think the sun has shone more than thrice in the last three months for more than fifteen minutes at a stretch either, which is getting me down. Thankfully we have not had your problems with un-thawable black ice, but yesterday the weather vacillated between high winds, hail, snow, rain, sleet, and general misery, and we’ve been bailing out rain barrels in an attempt to keep the floods at bay. Demon weather is an excellent term for such days/weeks/months.
    I can spare at least three degrees Fahrenheit, as long as you’ll keep them through the summer; we live in a mountainous desert region where the dry heat can become positively vicious by mid-July.

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