Here in the Midwest, we’re bracing for the latest round of unpredictable weather. People have read that a “polar vortex” will be moving through this week, producing unseasonably cool temperatures in Ohio and its neighbors, and there’s been a lot of chatter about it.
The meteorologists are debating whether the incoming weather conditions really should be called a polar vortex at all — but the average Joe doesn’t care about the scientific mumbo-jumbo. The fact is, we like having weather phenomena to talk about. It’s basic, inoffensive stuff that you can talk about with anyone, and since it’s always changing, it’s a constant source of new fodder for conversation. “Hot enough for ya?” “That thunderstorm last night was a big one, wasn’t it?” “This is the snowiest winter in years.” Sure, it’s boring — but remember, this is the Midwest.
The predicted “polar vortex” (or not) that is headed our way consists of thunderstorms followed by a few days of high temperatures in the low 70s and lows in the low 50s. Compared to tornadoes and other bad weather conditions, it’s pretty tame. In fact, it sounds like a delightful break from the normal July menu of blazing days in the 90s and hot, muggy nights. We’ll probably open our windows and enjoy the cool air.
Everyone should go off the grid now and then — disconnect their technology, stop checking their messages and sending texts every five minutes, and sit in a rocking chair and read a book or have a good talk for a change.
Our trip this weekend up to Hen Island in Lake Erie took us into the “roaming zone.” When we landed on Pelee Island, in the Canadian waters, we promptly received a text message advising that we would be assessed the dreaded roaming charges for any calls or cellular use. I immediately turned off my phone. When we reached Hen Island we discovered that, oddly, some parts of it — miniscule as it is — are roaming, and parts have Verizon coverage. I nevertheless kept my phone off except for once a day checks to make sure that Kish and the rest of the family were okay.
What a delight to be unhooked from the grid and no longer enslaved to the phone! And what a treat to have a conversation without being interrupted by a beep or chirp — or noticing that the person you are talking to is surreptitiously checking their handheld for a text message that apparently can’t wait. Liberated, by necessity, from the reflexive, repeated phone checking, you have the time for a quiet walk, some exploring, a good read, or a silly game. Relaxation inevitably follows.
When we returned from the roaming zone and restored our phones to the grid, the world was pretty much the same as when we had left it. Astonishingly, it hadn’t ended because we were disconnected for a few days. It’s a good lesson to learn.