Grey Skies Smilin’ at Me
September 25, 2011
“Don’t you like a rather foggy day in a wood in autumn? You’ll find we shall be perfectly warm sitting in the car.”
Jane said she’d never heard of anyone liking fogs before but she didn’t mind trying. All three got in.
“That’s why Camilla and I got married, ” said Denniston as they drove off. “We both like Weather. Not this or that kind of weather, but just Weather. It’s a useful taste if one lives in England.”
“How ever did you learn to do that, Mr. Denniston?” said Jane. “I don’t think I should ever learn to like rain and snow.”
“It’s the other way around,” said Denniston. “Everyone begins as a child by liking Weather. You learn the art of disliking it as you grow up. Noticed it on a snowy day? The grown-ups are all going about with long faces, but look at the children – and the dogs? They know what snow’s made for.”
“I’m sure I hated wet days as a child,” said Jane.
“That’s because the grown-ups kept you in,” said Camilla. “Any child loves rain if allowed to go out and paddle about in it.”
– C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength, Chapter 5 “Elasticity” (1946)
Lewis wrote somewhere else that a person who lives in England had better learn not to speak of the sky as merely grey but to distinguish between shades of grey. He thought the infinite varieties of English weather worth noticing and describing in detail and with subtlety. British composers seem not to have needed that advice, since we’re now told that they are twice as likely to have written music with meteorological themes than their foreign counterparts.