The Mercy Forecast

I could change Mercyburg’s name to Stormyburg and I wouldn’t be lying or exaggerating. It’s just after 1 am and I’m wide awake listening to yet another heavy storm pass. I took this photo before work yesterday. Got out early for a run to beat — you guessed it — storms in the forecast.

Heading home in the last mile I thought about how running has been a ritual of comfort during these weeks of COVID 19 adjustment. During these weeks of cardiac care adjustment. And how for all this adjusting and re-adjusting, the supporting rituals remain. The habitual things runners do for the run or because of the run that are not the run.

For well over two decades I’ve planned the day’s run relative to the weather. Every morning the same routine; yawn, stretch, coffee, check weather. Even though I checked the night before. Check again. Adjust. Now that I’ve lost the treadmill option (gym still closed), the week’s runs get populated in the spaces between the storms, which means more/constant checking and adjustment.

I say this because weather forecasting is more like weather guessing here Stormyburg. Sometimes the storms never come. Sometimes they pop up out of nowhere. Nonetheless, runners check at least once every morning, even on days we don’t plan to run.

Drawing upon reserves of running-related sass, I entertained myself in the morning’s homestretch with the sentiment I’ve added to the photo. Flipped a 25 year old script. And now I wonder if the weather is likewise entertained that I am sleepless on a weeknight due to her hijinks. Because it feels completely reasonable to assume the weather is revenge-storming because I was so brash and daring. Perhaps she thought I was being catty. And yes, it also feels completely reasonable to assume the weather is a She.

I did not post the photo on social media but somehow she still knew about it. She sees all. Since I did create it and edit it outdoors, I guess my intentions were implied. She knows me. She knew it would end up posted somewhere. Perhaps she didn’t think I’d ever figure it out; that some days she adjusts to me and not the other way around. Because then I’d write about it. Other people would know, or at least dare to question. And then she might lose some of her standing as an indomitable force of Nature and concede to share that standing with me, another indomitable force of Nature.

Imagine how life would be different if the weather saw our fierceness coming and adjusted accordingly. Maybe it’s been going on all this time. Does the weather get up every morning and check me to see if my forecast has changed overnight? And then plan her activities relative to me? And maybe get frustrated when my pattern changes unexpectedly? You may scoff but there really is no way to know for sure, is there? Sentient weather. Imagine. Is there a term for anthropomorphizing the weather?

It is now the wee hours of the next morning. Wednesday morning. I’ve already checked. Yep. As if it is a daily religious observance, I have checked. It will storm again this afternoon. And overnight. I have a longstanding rule that if I get less than five hours of sleep I skip the run, and yet I still check. How devoted I am to this ritual. It is probably the solitude prompting me to want/expect/predict the same level of devotion in return. From the weather, of all things. So there was no way I was not going to write about it.

I’m going to try to go back to sleep. If I am successful I will wake up in a few hours and do it all again even though I probably won’t run today. I’ll check anyway. Only now I’ll smile and look around me and suspect she’s checking me out as well.

Wednesday Mercy forecast: Mostly sleepy. Light winds. Isolated periods of ridiculousness. Chance of an afternoon tennis lesson. No need to change your plans, Honey. I’m feeling docile today.

— Mercy

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