It snowed again last night and the wind is ripping around in fascinating spirals. The fine, light snow illustrates the fierce low swirling of the wind. At my view, from the front desk of the library, out past the rental books and the troughs of DVDs, through the windows onto a courtyard formed on one side by the coffee shop, on the other the teen room, I can see the snow streaming down off the roof at a ferocious speed. The ground drives the snow over in an elegant curve towards the teen room walls which drive it up, but the snow blowing off the roof pushes it back down to that space's exact center. Then suddenly all the wind and snow are out of places to go, and the whole lovely spiraling swirl comes apart into chaos.
There is another way for me to know it is windy out there. All the patrons tell me so. Well, maybe just half of them, but that's a lot of people. "It's really windy out there!" they say. There's a bit of variation on that quote, but not much.
This winter is a fine one for weather events. There may be several ways by which to explain what a weather event is, but by far the simplest way, here, is to say that a weather event is any condition of the outside world that causes most patrons to comment on it to me. Tomorrow, during the time I am likely to be at the front desk, the temperature should be somewhere between minus 10 and minus 15. I will hear the phrase "Keep warm." 150 times. One hundred fifty times! That is a weather event.
The other indication of a weather event is that the library gets much more quiet than usual. Suffering the scars of many years of working a library that was far busier than we could reasonably handle, I am always very keen on the library being more quiet than usual. I am so keen on it that I can feel cheated when terrible weather fails to stem the great tide of library patrons. Yes, sometimes these two indicators of a weather event do not match up and we get half a weather event. The people of my city get sick of being limited by relentlessly awful weather. They go about their business regardless of the foot of snow that fell. "Incredible all the snow out there!" they tell me, a lot of them tell me. Two hundred people say to me "Don't go out if you don't have to. It's terrible out there!"
"Then what are you doing here?" I think, but I don't say it. It's their library, and welcome to it. I just help them as I can, and when they're leaving, I merely say "Keep warm."