The internet is an interesting resource. When I look up the origin of the phrase “under the weather” on Google I get 22,000 hits. As best I can tell almost all of them are based on the same two print sources. it’s great, I guess, that all these thousands of on-line inquiries have the effect of promulgating a simple, apparently non-controversial bit of information. But I come away overwhelmed by the redundancy of it all. I see a vast field full of benighted folk, intellectual peasants comparable to the socioeconomic peasants envisioned by Langland’s Piers Ploughman, all nattering and dithering about the meaning of this phrase. Some of them, the bloggers, proudly hold up the same nugget of wisdom that they have found through their own Google search as if they had discovered El Dorado. In fact, they all could have found the answer through a quick internet check without posting their own repetitive quest narratives and definitions. This kind of research is not rocket science. (1)
I had been under the weather for about ten days. It was a very minor bronchial ailment, I guess falling into the “Summer Cold” category. Every morning my throat was a bit clogged; a few times when I went out to ride I felt a little “fever chill” kind of frisson at some point. But the impact on my usual life was minimal. No shortness of breath, no lack of energy, only a slightly less than usual vocal proficiency at choir practice.
Except for my bike rides.
The more intense breathing and need for oxygen on the ride challenged my lungs. Going up hills I’d cough a bit, my body involuntarily wanting to clear out the last bits of congestion. I could feel a lower energy level; my usual speeds and climbing rates felt more difficult to achieve. My legs consistently felt strong, but my cardiovascular system was unable to supply the necessary energy to move the bike in the usual way. And the metrics confirmed the physical intuitions. I was slower, less efficient, “off my game,” by measurable amounts. Ever effort felt like it was happening in a stiff headwind.
In recent days I’d been progressively coughing less and coughing up less in the morning. And yesterday my ride felt good, back in the comfort and achievement zones I expect. Under the weather no more!
1. The term is nautical, referring to seasickness victims. They were sent below decks, where they were out of the weather and in a place where the rocking was not so extreme. Thus they were under, and out of, the weather because they were feeling queasy.
©Arnold J. Bradford, 2010.