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The Furry Weather Report: Attitudes

Last night, the cats came in several times with frosty fur. I don't mean that their fur was literally touched with frost, but that their fur was so cold that breathing the air in around them, or gently stroking their heads and backs, one could feel the touch of frost in the air outside. After a brief spring-like day which was clear and almost warm, the night's temperatures had dropped to near chilling. I am sure my young fruit trees are quite happy; all the more likely that they will produce good fruit in this coming year.

The temperature during the day is in the mid-sixties (Fahrenheit); a bit cool, but not uncomfortable. It got as low as 42.6 degrees out in my back yard (I have a remote sensor that reports to a clock I have by my desk), and is only up to 47.1 degrees outside now, and beautifully foggy, at 9:48 AM. At 42 degrees, a frost is still some ten degrees away, but it is cool enough to notice. Though the cats don't seem to mind. Their paw pads get cold, though, and when they cuddle with me, I hold their paws in my warm hands, which they not only seem to appreciate, but to almost demand. Or at least take as their due. I don't mind; the warmth in my heart from a loving, cuddling cat, no matter how frosty, snuggled up on my chest far exceeds any chill from their cold paws and fur. I even enjoy their cold wet noses touching my own nose or cheek.

The rains seem to have let up for a while. Though we have had record rainfalls here in Northern Califormia in the past two months (at least for as long as people have been keeping track in this area, which is only for less than a century), yet still I enjoy the rain--for that matter, I enjoy all sorts of weather--and I am glad for every drop we get, for every bit of rain now means that much less of a drought come summer.

It used to puzzle me that people would feel otherwise in this state (California), which is, on the whole, a semi-arid state, meaning sort of a desert. It puzzled me even more that in Tucson Arizona, where I lived for seven wonderful years and which is an outright desert receiving only 11 inches of rain a year, people could ever complain about the rain.

It gradually dawned on me over the years that many of the people who complain about the rain were also the sort who complain about the sun or fog or wind or any other weather. In short, nothing pleases them, and they are always wishing for things to be other than they are at present. It is always too hot or too cold or too dry or too wet. They are constantly looking forward to when they are sure things will be better, toward the day of "perfect" weather, never realizing that the weather isn't the problem--it is their inability to enjoy what is in front of them right now, their inability to find perfection in the rain or the fog or the heat. And anyway, the weather, as I am sure someone has already remarked, will always be with us. (Paraphrasing Jesus's comment from the Bible: "For you have the poor always with you, but me you have not always." (Mark 14:3-9.) I quite presumptuously am sure he doesn't mind.)

It is a matter of attitude, both being unhappy with the weather (or anything else one is experiencing) and being poor. As Shakespeare once said (and I consider him a man wise in the ways of human nature), "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2; as an aside here, allow me to mention that Sarah Winchester, she of the Winchester Mystery House fame, had these words formed in a stained glass window in her unused ballroom. I toured the Mystery House once, and never would again. The energy in that house is uncomfortable to me. And yes, it is a mystery why she had those words placed in the window, especially as she herself didn't seem to agree with them, but instead is said to have lived in fear her entire life.)

One can have little money or few material goods and yet not be poor ("broke, but never poor," which is said to be a Norwegian proverb). One can also have plenty and never be happy with it, either always wanting more, or always finding fault with what one has. And yet if one cannot find something positive to say about one's experiences (and I do mean any experience, even those that are genuinely unhappy, such as the death of a loved one), then one is always going to be unhappy, if only by a little.

Attitude is in part an outgrowth of one's natural temperament, about which one can do little, and in part a habit, about which one can do much. Some people automatically go to anger or criticism or unhappiness when responding to something new. Others go to wonder or delight or at least an openness to whatever the thing is. If those who automatically go to anger or fear or criticism or any other form of unhappiness were to become aware of this habitual response on their part, then they have a chance of consciously changing that response to at least neutrality, and perhaps better. It takes time to change a habit, and there will be successes and failures, but with persistence, a habit by definition can be dropped and another put in its place.

I will even cheerfully go out on a limb and say that the most confirmed pessimists could train themselves to be at the very least cautious optimists. If the various studies on the connection between attitude and health are to be trusted (and I think they are), then, if successful in converting to a more optimistic outlook, such people have a better chance of living longer, too, and of being happier on the way.

The weather will always be better, too.

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