It’s that time of the year again – leaves falling off shivering trees, rain and clouds keeping a perpetually gray sky, temperatures dipping so low that you can see your breath. You need layers to bundle up and keep you warm, to protect you against this change in the weather. And how do we refer to this change? Sweater weather. Like a mindless sheep, you take one thing mildly associated with the temperature and broadly use it to encompass an entire meteorological phenomenon. Sweater weather. Do you even hear yourself? Consider what your weather app tells you, what meteorologists on the news report. They describe cold air, chances of rain, fog, wind, maybe even snow. There’s no sweaters in there.
Once again, I cannot believe I have to be the one to wake everyone up to this blatant fallacy and remind you that it hasn’t rained sweaters in decades. Sure, we had the Argyle Rain of ‘62, which absolutely devastated eastern Connecticut. There were the Cable-knit Thunderstorms all throughout the late 60s, and we all know how crazy they got in the midwest during the summer of ‘69. We’ve allll unpacked the stories of the 1973 Cardigan Cyclone and Nixon’s failed button-cleanup efforts in our U.S. History classes. And, fine, you caught me, there was the freak Turtleneck Hurricane in ‘88, but if you recall, those turtlenecks weren’t even knit. After the first four days of the storm, a turtleneck sample revealed the material was actually cotton. Sounds like a bonafide SHIRT to me, not a sweater. Face the goddamn facts.
It’s been decades since our last sweater rain, for which we obviously have climate change to thank. We will probably never again see such swaths of merino wool and cashmere fall from the sky; future generations will only know of such incredible natural events through our stories and the ecological legacies of drizzled knitwear. Sure, I myself never got to witness these meteorological marvels, but as you can see, my parents have bestowed their rich knowledge unto me. They experienced firsthand these legendary sweater storms, and even supplied me with a textbook written by Dr. Harold B. Benson (yes, the Dr. Benson, head scientist for the National Weather Service’s Sweater Department), titled A Comprehensive Guide to Sweater Meteorology. Sure, it was mostly pictures of sweaters lying in random places that all kind of looked kind of my backyard, and it was also just a bunch of loose pages instead of a bound book, but Dr. Benson actually intended it to be like that. You’d know if you also read his memoir, which my parents gave to me after I had questions about the textbook.
And for my friends, who have repeatedly said to me that it’s “so obvious” I was “homeschooled” and “none of this ever happened” and my “parents are crazy” and they’re “deeply concerned” I’m “this naive” and “why are you guys so obsessed with sweaters, of all things?” I hear you, and it’s okay. I know you guys just feel bad about the fact that climate change is disrupting the environment and affecting the weather patterns of our generation. I know we’re all just sad that our parents got to experience sweater rain and we never will.
This is all to say that while “sweater weather” is a fascinating phenomenon that we all love to study, it simply isn’t happening anymore, and continuing to use this vocabulary makes it look like you’re living in the past. I’m just trying to look out for you so you don’t embarrass yourself. Like Dr. Benson wisely says when describing the aftermath of the 1936 Sweater Vest hailstorm, “Sometimes, we all just need to work together to put those sweaters behind us.”