People often begin conversations by talking about the weather.
In fact, writing about the weather is a prompt I often use to get myself started, especially in my journal. I put the date, then start cracking on about the weather - hot, cold, wet, windy, whatever.
And because the weather has been so extraordinary, and, in some cases, quite dangerous this season, it's a really good way to kick-start your writing, and it may even lead you to write about another time in your life when weather played a memorable role.
Some of the wild wind we've been having here reminded me of a summer stay up at Whananaki, in Northland, many years ago. A friend and I were lucky enough to have use of an old caravan parked on some beautiful land near the beach. There was an outdoor long-drop dunny, anchored to the rock, with splintered and salt-burned wooden walls and a creaky door on well rusted hinges. The toilet seat was also made of wood, worn smooth by countless bottoms. The cracks in the seat pinched your bum when you sat down, and of course the long, dark hole below was excessively threatening to all five senses.
One night a storm came in. We had no electricity, only wavering candles and flash lights. We hunkered down in the caravan with our storm provisions: lukewarm beer and cold baked beans on stale bread. The brave little caravan shook and rattled. The wind hissed, whined, and pummeled the frail structure while we recited drunken poetry and sang songs to ourselves, white-knuckled.
Inevitably, after beer, one must venture to the dunny. I put it off for as along as I could.
Out I went into the tempest in my foul weather gear, little flashlight beam piercing through the raging wind and horizontal rain. I made it to the dunny for what would be a speedy wee.
It seemed as if the wind was blowing up through the longdrop hole, wailing and moaning carrying with it the overpowering scents of decomposing matter mixed with the salt of the sea, while the entire dunny vibrated with the fierceness of the gale. Rain shot through the splinters and cracks in the walls, stinging my face and exposed bottom. I knew then with the certainty that can accompany inebriation, that the dunny would blow over, fly down the hill, onto the beach and into the raging, boiling, surf, with me trapped inside, flailing madly about with my foul weather pants around my ankles. The indignity of it.
So certain was I of my impending doom that I flung myself out of that dunny and straight into a sodden, solid, soaking wet, smelly lump of animal that had taken shelter outside. I shrieked, it snorted and galloped away. In the flashlight beam I caught the tail-end of a sheep, bounding off into the dark night.
Does writing about the weather take you back to memories of dunnies and storms and soaking wet sheep?