For those who’ve never been to Kansas, the best way to describe the weather is … unpredictable. Like a box of chocolates. Not the Forest Gump version where every bite is a surprise, but the modern-day box that comes with a neat little flavor map. Here, you know exactly what’s going to be in each slot. But just because you know something’s called an “artesian blend” or a “maple chew” doesn’t mean you know what it’s going to taste like. And even if you guess, it often comes off as some adjacent version. Like an artesian darker blend or maple chew-esque.
There’s also random combinations of flavors in close proximity of one another – in what world are cherry cordials the closest thing to a mallow or peanut cluster? Yet they still sit side by side, because that’s where God put them.
That’s pretty much Kansas weather.
The news may tell you it’s going to be humid, but you don’t know exactly how humid until you’re sweaty within two steps into the outdoors. Or the weatherman may suggest rain, but – because it’s Kansas – it’s a weird almost rain that makes it wet without actually falling. Then the next day, it’s cold with 52-mile-an-hour winds –sunny and calm the day after, followed by fog and snow at the end of the week. Like the chocolate placement, there’s little rhyme or reason behind it. Science probably, but not reason.*
Because I was raised here, I’m used to it. I own winter coats, summer dresses, socks with all levels of thicknesses – you have to be prepared. But when an outsider comes in, the abnormalities are readily pointed out.
“It’s 84 degrees out,” they’ll tell me. “But it was 10 with a -14 wind chill one week ago.”
And all I can muster is a, “Yep, welcome to Kansas.”
Or when it thunders and, with each rear-shaking boom, they jump out of their chair.
“The thunder here is so loud!” they say.
While I’m all, “Oh that? Wait until summer!”
My Crystal Ball Does Not Work on Weather**
Despite all my years of Kansas living, I never know what weather phenomenon will happen next. Colored skies may or may not mean hail, fog can disappear just as quickly as it rolled in, and the temperature is a forever-changing force against the wardrobe.
But as it turns out, local weather actually can be foretold.
In 2011, at my cousin’s wedding, Mother Nature was giving a real mix of hotter-than-crap/intermittent wind, with a side of sometimes raining. Because it was an outdoor wedding, I snuck into the golf cart shed and borrowed an oversized umbrella … just in case. And on my way to hide it near the bride’s starting line, I was confronted by the groom’s grandpa, a lifelong farmer. (Because, apparently a girl carrying an umbrella as large as her is not very inconspicuous.)
“It’s going to rain,” he told me, looking up at the sky like he were reading literal words in the clouds. “But not at the time of the wedding. It’ll clear up about 10 minutes before.” He pointed to each cloud, like I too could read the words, then headed back into the building.
And I’ll be damned if he wasn’t right. Guests and décor got rained on, but then, 10 minutes before the ceremony, it stopped. Didn’t rain for the rest of the day. Which means either 1) he was right, or 2) he has some voodoo-type control over precipitation.
To sum up – nothing and everything is possible all at once. And unless you are an 82-year-old farmer, you just have to wait for it to happen.
*This is probably wrong. There has to be some reason, like how we’re centrally located and act as a catch-all for any commuting weather patterns, like we were the layover on their connecting flight.
**I don’t have an actual crystal ball. But if I did it would be a collector’s edition from the movie Teen Witch.