My brothers are awake, testing the weather.

Does it simply mean

they're testing the weather condition?

Or it has another meaning?

Could you please explain it to me?

The fuller text is here:

The hill is paved with wild wheat. If the conifers and sagebrush are soloists, the wheat field is a corps de ballet, each stem following all the rest in bursts of movement, a million ballerinas bending, one after the other, as great gales dent their golden heads. The shape of that dent lasts only a moment, and is as close as anyone gets to seeing wind. Turning toward our house on the hillside, I see movements of a different kind, tall shadows stiffly pushing through the currents. My brothers are awake, testing the weather. I imagine my mother at the stove, hovering over bran pancakes. I picture my father hunched by the back door, lacing his steel-toed boots and threading his callused hands into welding gloves.

Educated, by Tara Westover.


"Testing the weather" means checking the current weather conditions. From this it has acquired a metaphorical meaning, of sampling or checking out the current state of things generally, perhaps having nothing to do with any literal weather. For example when dealign with a person of uncertain temper, one might say:

I don't know what his mood is today, so I am testing the weather before introducing my big news.

Given the extended metaphor of plants as performers in the early part of the passage, the phrase "testing the weather" might here be used in a literal or a figurative sense, but I suspect the literal sense.

  • 1
    More common, I think (at least in the US) is the idiom testing the waters
    – J.R.
    Jul 23 '19 at 20:17

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