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Everybody talks about the weather
Mar 20, 2014
Most Winnipeg conversations begin with the weather. We’re not alone. In 1758, Samuel Johnson wrote, “When two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather.”
In 1897, this clever quip appeared in a Hartford Courant editorial: “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” While this comment is nearly always attributed to Mark Twain, he didn’t say it. It actually originated with the editorial writer, Charles Dudley Warner.
Nevertheless, Twain did say, “The weather is always doing something.”
It’s probably because the weather is always doing something that so much weather-related language has invaded English.
We’ve all heard: “a second wind,” “sunny-side up,” “brainstorm,” “snow job,” “the way the wind blows,” “come rain or shine,” “whirlwind romance,” “thunderous applause,” “climate of opinion,” “winds of change,” “and “rain-check,” to mention a few weather clichés.
There’s more. Over 250 song titles mention some aspect of weather. Some of these are: Stormy Weather, Singing in the Rain, April Showers, Let it Snow, Blowin’ in the Wind, Over the Rainbow, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, and You are My Sunshine.
Books also get into the act. We have, for example, Gone With the Wind, The Winter of Our Discontent, The Rainmaker, The Stormy Petrel, The Wind in the Willows, and Who Has Seen the Wind? 
Naturally, Shakespeare also wrote about weather. Remember The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale.
I hesitate to suggest the Bible might ever be wrong, but in The Book of Job, we read, “Fair weather cometh out of the north” (Job 37:22). Most Winnipeggers would disagree. 
But don’t lose faith. Earlier in the same chapter of Job, we read, “Out of the south cometh the whirlwind: and cold out of the north” (Job 37:9).
Here’s a little quiz to show how thoroughly weather language has entered everyday speech. Just fill in the blanks.
1. A—— in a teapot.
2. —— cats and dogs.
3. Make hay while the ——  ——.
4. Save money for a —— day.
5. Any port in a ——.
6. As fast as ——  ——.
7. Throw caution to the ——.
8. It never —— but it ——.
9. Take the —— out of someone’s sails.
10. He broke into —— of laughter.
11. Skating on ——  ——.
12. Shoot the ——.
13. To steal one’s ——.
14. To feel under ——  ——.
15. Sadly, she’s a ——  —— friend.
16. The Beatles took the world by ——.
17. Keep your —— eye open.
18. Give someone the —— shoulder.
19. That’ll happen when hell —— over.
20. Three sheets to (in) the ——.
American humourist, Frank McKinney Hubbard wrote: “Don’t knock the weather. Nine tenths o’ the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while.”
Answers: 1. tempest; 2. raining; 3. sun shines; 4. rainy; 5. storm; 6. greased lightning; 7. winds; 8. rains, pours; 9. wind; 10. gale; 11. thin ice; 12. breeze; 13. thunder; 14. the weather; 15. fair weather; 16. storm; 17. weather; 18. cold; 19. freezes; 20. wind.