It didn’t get above zero yesterday. My husband had a fever, so I did chores, three hours of feeding and watering chickens and cows. All true. If I were a character in a novel, I’d appear loving and responsible.
But what if my hands got so cold I decided not to inspect the electric fence in the cow yard? I looked from a distance and the wire guiding the cows to the next row of hay bales looked okay, so I skipped this important step.
What if the fence wasn’t okay? Hay would get wasted. A calf could get separated from its mother. A heifer could tear open a bag of grain, overeat, and bloat. The herd could get out, wander onto the highway and cause an accident that would result in an insurance claim at best, a lawsuit at worst.
What if I skipped this step again and again, rationalizing that I don’t get paid enough or loved enough for my fingers to risk frostbite on a daily basis because I’m really, really tired of being cold. The wind howls nonstop and we’ve been snowed in for days and the baby is out of formula and winter is driving me mad.
Weather impacts setting, but it can also drive plot and impact characterization.