Monday, March 26, 2012

Here Comes the Rain, Again

The only thing better than rain is post-rain.
 I love rain.  I love the sound of it on the roof and windows, on leaves and overhangs.  I love the feel of it, warm or icy cold as it dribbles down the inside of my collar, trickling along the part in my hair.  I love the smell of ozone that accompanies it.  I love gauging its intensity by watching the ripples on puddles or the distance I can see through it. 

As a native Southern Californian, rain was a novelty, a miraculous moment when moisture fell from the sky, rather than from a spigot. The media perpetuated this feeling of awe and mystery, sending rookie reporters wearing slickers and hip waders into dry stream beds and drainage ditches in preparation for Storm Watch.  Television shows were interrupted to announce if precipitation was sighted, perhaps even felt, just in case we weren’t aware of the sensation or maybe it was to prevent panic, a la Chicken Little.

In preparation for the “rainy season,” such as it was, my mother kept my sister and I well stocked on rain coats, umbrellas, and rain boots.   Rain coats were frequently left unbuttoned.  Umbrellas were just as frequently lost as used for rain gauges (upside down), or better yet as sails.  It was always much more entertaining to position an umbrella to catch the wind rather than to fend off moisture.

I love rain boots.  Part of it is the equestrienne aspect of wearing any boots.  The first pair of rain boots I remember were yellow with rabbits on the sole.  I walked backwards so that I could see the imprints.  Being naturally clumsy, this almost tripled my trip rate, which wasn’t a complete tragedy, because if I’d fallen forward, I’d actually have gotten wet, my raincoat being unbuttoned.  One time at school, a friend and I wandered to the back end of the field where there was a rather large puddle.  Wanting to show off the advantage of boots rather than shoes,  I waded along the length of the puddle.  About five steps in, I found myself thigh deep in water with knee high boots.   The weird sensation of body temperature water pulsing out of my boots as I walked back to class was equal to the initial horror and thrill of feeling the cold water rush into them.

My first thunderstorm was during a road trip to visit my grandmother.  I hadn’t seen lightning or heard thunder before and the Grand Canyon provided a spectacular introduction.  Despite being frightened of fireworks and popping balloons, I was enthralled by thunder.  The rumble and crack made my body vibrate, my hair stand on end.  My father taught my sister and me how to figure out if a storm was coming or going.  We continued to encounter storms and watched lightning bolts twisting through the sky as we crossed the Great Plains.

Frolicking post-rain in front of my Baton Rouge apartment.
My first summer in Baton Rouge, it rained every day at 4pm, flooding the streets knee deep as two to three inches of water gushed from the sky in roughly an hour.  It was astounding.  And warm.  There was no point in using an umbrella or raincoat.  Because the rain was so predictable, it was easy to hunker down somewhere, preferably The Chimes with a platter of cheese fries and an Abita, and watch the rain.  On the other hand, feeling that amount of rain wash over me was incredible. 

The storms weren’t without danger.  There were almost weekly reports of students getting struck by lightning as they crossed the Parade grounds of LSU – fortunately no one was killed.  Once a bolt of lightning hit a transformer across the street from where I was standing.  I can still hear the whirring buzzing noise as the bolt came down and feel the electricity that coursed through the ground and air afterwards.  Terrifying, but wonderfully exciting.

Although during our first year in Northern California there was tremendous flooding, the rain has progressively dwindled in amounts over the past few years.  When it does rain, I try to enjoy it.  Our current dogs don’t seem to mind it.  On days of heavier rain, I go through a raincoat for each dog.  I can’t understand why raincoats are “water resistant” rather than water proof.  We go to the creek to check the water level.  If I miss the peak flow, I look for the tell-tale signs of bent grass or debris line and then marvel at how quickly the level drops.  If it rains at night, I go upstairs to listen to the rain on the skylight.

Maybe my love of rain is because it forces me to take a moment, to put ordinary life on hold, to resign myself to Mother Nature’s will.  I don’t like to drive in the rain, so I’ll come up with any number of excuses to avoid it.  At the moment, I’m in a position that allows me to do so.  With our washer and dryer on the porch, laundry is put on hold.  Once the dogs are walked, I can usually stay at home. 

Mother Nature, I surrender. 

There are worse thing than a comfy chair, a good book, and a hot beverage, while listening to the susurrus of the rain.

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