Judith La Porte
I had a friend, April who was totally obsessed by the weather. She allowed meteorology to dictate most of her decisions and actions. It drove me crazy.
‘Don’t let the state of the weather dominate your life, April!’ I used to say to her in exasperation.
When we were in our twenties, single and carefree, we always planned our holidays together. Both competent skiers we loved the exhilaration of speeding down a sparkling white slope in our fashionable pastel ski suits and black knit beanies, or gracefully gliding along groomed eucalyptus-lined trails on cross-country skis.
But more often than not the annual winter escape to our favourite mountain chalet was thwarted. All because April had days earlier studied the predicted snow conditions and decided that there was either not enough of the white stuff or that blizzards were on the horizon.
‘But, April,’ I pleaded, ‘It doesn’t matter—we can sit in the pub drinking gluhwein on the bad weather days. Think of all those lovely Austrian ski instructors we could get to know.’
She would ponder that enticement for a second or two but would then shake her curly blonde head. ‘We can try for next season—conditions may be on our side then.’
So I either begrudgingly cancelled as well or else spent a miserable week skiing solo, admittedly in a face-numbing whiteout or scraping my skis over mud patches in the melting snow and eating alone in a near empty hotel dining room.
Not one to totally embrace technology, April did unfortunately discover weather apps with warning notifications. Much to my chagrin she installed several on her mobile phone.
Weekend excursions were regularly stymied because of weather considerations.
‘Cycle ride around the lake?’
‘No, too windy.’
‘No way—it’s much too hot and I smell smoke.’
‘Picnic in the park?’
‘Are you kidding—there’s a chance of showers and thunderstorms.’
‘Sorry, it’s too sunny and warm to waste indoors in a stuffy movie theatre.’
If she had not been such a charming, funny and kind friend I would have discarded her years before.
After I married I was able to participate in all manner of excursions with my husband, despite the forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology. Jack was very easygoing and not in the least concerned about the weather, as April was.
I did persevere with her though, often inviting her to join Jack and I at our sprawling comfortable holiday house at the beach. There was a charming guest room painted blue. Sea shells and paperbacks were piled on the bedside tables. Between the pale yellow window curtains there was a sea view to die for.
‘I won’t come down after all,’ inevitably April would tell me over the phone. ‘I see there’s a mass of low pressure and a cold front moving rapidly towards the coast.’
After these calls I would sit on the balcony in the warm coastal sunshine and still air, looking out at the shimmering and invitingly calm ocean, gloomily waiting for the foretold change.
Jack could sense my disappointment and be gently reproving. ‘I don’t know why you bother asking her.’
When April was well into her forties with several doomed relationships behind her, she announced that she was to be married. I was overjoyed for her. But I did wonder how Rick, her fiancé handled her weather mania.
On the day of the wedding dark clouds loomed ominously, despite April’s painstakingly researched forecast of warm, sunny conditions.
As we sat in the small village church, mass anxiety gradually descended like the stormy clouds outside. April was forty minutes late—that amount of tardiness was not fashionable even for a bride.
I looked about to see if I could spot Rick, no doubt distressed by April’s non-appearance. But he was nowhere to be seen either. The elderly priest kept glancing at his watch with increasing irritation. The wedding guests were starting to murmur and shift restlessly in their seats.
After an hour we realized that the wedding was not going to take place. By this time the rain had started to pelt down with fury. Thunder boomed.
The priest left, shaking his head and muttering about time wasted. Some of the guests huddled in the church foyer hoping at least for champagne and canapés as compensation.
Leaving Jack at the church door to stand guard, I hurried to the nearby guest house where April had stayed overnight. I arrived drenched, my pale green suede shoes, bought for the occasion, ruined. I found April and Rick sitting in the lounge room holding hands and calmly gazing out of the window at the bleak weather. April had removed her flowered hat and it lay at her feet.
They both looked up guiltily but defiantly.
‘We decided that we didn’t want rain on our wedding day, so …’ April’s voice trailed off, lost in a clap of thunder.
Rick nodded in agreement. It seemed he did share her views on inclement weather.
‘Can you apologise to everyone for us? I’m sure they’ll understand,’ he said, beaming at me.
No they won’t, I wanted to shout at them over the noise coming from the heavens. Instead I dutifully returned to the remaining small cluster of guests and announced the unhappy news.
April and Rick were married three weeks later. The civil ceremony was conducted by a cheerful young woman in a short purple dress, outdoors in glorious sunshine with just the slightest hint of a breeze. Jack and I were the only others in attendance.
Their marriage, although brief, was a happy one.
April died suddenly one afternoon in early Autumn. At the burial I stood heartbroken by her grave.
Oh, April, I’ll miss you so much. Now who’ll advise me to take a jumper or an umbrella on outings? Deeply saddened as I was, I did feel some comfort from the warm sun caressing my back and shoulders.
Rick, who was standing beside me weeping silently, suddenly raised his face to the blue cloudless sky. He turned to me and smiled through his tears.
‘She always wanted perfect weather for her big occasions.’
Bio: Judith is a former librarian who began writing short stories a few years ago. She is a member of the ACT Writers Centre and also belongs to a local writer’s group which meets monthly.