Just finished listening to Antigua Observer news online. Been making a point to catch the 5:30pm edition every day, not so much to stay on top of the news but to hear the last part of it – the weather report. There’s something drawing me to it, and, truth be told, I don’t even care much for the weather report itself. My need is more to hear the flow of it… the theme song at the beginning, the introduction and the “brought to you by…” part, the monotone presenter’s reading of the report complete with barometric pressure (that I swear is never anything other than “above normal”). That part of the news report always makes me homesick. No matter where I am in the world or how long I’ve been there or will stay there, hearing the weather report for Antigua & Barbuda puts me in a nostalgic frame of mind. I’ve felt it in Antigua even, driving home from a tiring day at work, taking the scenic route just to unwind and be alone(ish) with my thoughts… IN ANTIGUA. I’m never spared the nostalgia once the weather report is on.
I think its the “reminds me of when…” feel of it. It really does take me back to childhood; hearing (but not listening to) the weather report at the end of the 7pm evening news, sitting at the dining table with my brother eating supper of bread and… (bread and peanut butter or sardines or potted meat or corned beef or fried bologna or cheese or guava jelly or maybe just butter.. but always bread) and drinking ovaltine from my Minnie Mouse mug. The bread would be wood-bread (forever the BEST bread ever to be made!) and the ovaltine would be hot, sweetened with sugar (or condensed milk if there wasn’t any sugar) and creamy with milk. The adults would usually be talking about any and everything – politics, the number of times the “current lock off” that day (power outages were very common then), the happenings at school or work; they never seemed much interested in the weather report except when a hurricane was about to hit, then they weren’t interested in anything but the weather report. The only adult interested in every word of the nightly news, from the headlines to the weather report was my granny. Talking in the living and dining room and kitchen (just off the dining room) was ALWAYS held in check by her periodic and stern “SHHH!”. When that came everybody, from the youngest (me) to the eldest of granny’s children knew to shut up, or else…
If it was a good day, Ken (my brother) and I would be eating and chatting with each other, sometimes quietly, sometimes at “shhhh” level, while eating in peace like the “good, civilized”children my grandmother always admonished us to be. That’s IF it was a good day. If it was a typical day we’d be busy multi-tasking, juggling between eating supper and fighting each other above or under the table without getting caught (punishment was usually reserved for the one who got caught, not necessarily the one who started it or did the most damage to the other). After supper (which was timed to more or less coincide with the end of the nightly news) we’d be sent to bathe, brush our teeth and go to bed (tasks never accomplished without the terrorism that came with being my brother’s sister… the drive-by cuffs, the phantom “tump” while walking the dark, narrow passageway from living room to the bed or bathroom, the attempted body slams, the sneaking into the bathroom to pour cold water over the top of the shower curtain… of course, my screams would wake the frustration of one of the tired adults and the verbal lashing out that would follow would be for me… with Ken grinning triumphantly nearby).
Couldn’t have been more than 7 in the wistful memory that the weather report brings back with colourful clarity. 6 or 7, because my feet still dangled when I sat at the dinner table and I was still in a Minnie Mouse phase. Those scenes were created over 30 years ago! It’s funny the things from our childhood that we hold on to in our memories. Who would have thought that such a nothing memory would stick and walk with me throughout these decades?! I can’t explain the why of it but I know whenever I hear the weather report – the opening song, the introduction, report and closing – wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I long for a home I can never go back to; a home forever frozen in a child’s memory.