The forty-fifth parallel runs through Saint Paul, Minnesota. This parallel is generally considered the halfway point between the equator and the North Pole. This is irrelevant to our everyday lives with the exception of one truth: it is the cause of our extremely unpredictable weather, a concept that consumes us. We talk about it with co-workers, we talk about it on dates, we analyze it on the TV, we use it as an excuse for being late, we complain about it, we use it to avoid awkward gaps in uncomfortable conversation, and most importantly, we live in it.
My sister phones. "Storm!" she says, disgusted. "They're calling this a storm. No wind, maybe an inch of snow. It's winter, for Pete's sake, we're supposed to have snow. Get a grip!" My sister is not one of your hardy outdoors types, but we're Iron Rangers, and even though between us we've spent six decades in Saint Paul, we retain the Ranger's right to scorn urban wimpiness. It's the TV weather people who have set her off. "They are trying to brainwash us into weather wimps."