Tuesday, March 7, 2006


I'm in a state of child-like wonder.

We've had a lot of gloom and rain, on and off, lately, spaced with brilliant blue skies and hybrids of the two, but this morning, I heard a great rushing, outside, and saw born an enormous downpouring.

Real rain. SoCal-style torrential downpour. Maybe I'll get to that. . . It's been too long since I've run out and gotten soaked in the rain. Let alone since going out a second time directly after, when the rain had gotten harder and the street had started to flood.

I opened up all the windows, and turned off any lights/fans that were on. The sound of the rain has filled the apartment, and the brightness of the grey-white sky is illuminating all.

I went out and danced, skipped, dashed, hopped, splashed, stood, looked, breathed, got soaked to the skin, and spun circles. I wandered through the middle of the streetway, up several apartments, and heard how different the rain sounded on the different tin roofs over the cars, higher pitched, lower pitched, shhshier or rrrrrshier, listened to the good street sound of the rain hitting the asphalt and sidewalk, watched with glee as the rain came down still harder on me and made fields of tiny explosions with every fat drop crashing into the wet ground, so fast you couldn't trace the rain to the splash. I managed to look up into the clouds, for a moment, without getting hit in the eyes, and breathed the wet air. When I got back in after that second time, I dutifully hung up my soaked clothes, rubbed at my head (heavily dripping) with a towel, and put on soft, fuzzy, warm pajamas.

I forgot to smell for the rain, but a little of the sidewalk-water smell is coming up to the window. I love that.

It's best after hot, dry spells. Sudden rain on a hotter day has the sweetest, dustiest sidewalk-water smell, and it almost steams up from the ground.

The best rain-on-metal sound was actually at the dorms, when I lived there--painted aluminum rain gutters. It's not quite like anything else. Solid metal rings out, other heavily painted things more thwep, but together, here, there's a muffled rough, sweet sound. A flute blown poorly, maybe. It was wonderful to sleep to. The tin rooves here are too big, and grooved, so the sound becomes a steady whir, you can't hear the distinct drops on them the way you can pipes, or even streets. They sing like wind, rather than water.

Hm. I was going to predict flooding, but it looks like the drains caught up as the rain has slowed down. It's persisting, though, if far, far gentler. The grey is thinning into greater fields of white, above, so the light is getting stronger.

SoCal rain:

In Turlock, traditionally, there is slow, light, steady rain. It's an agricultural heaven--you get enough to thoroughly wet, without flooding overmuch and without drought. Once in a while, you get some heavier rain or just sprinkling. However (and we have, I know, global warming to thank for this), SoCal rain patterns have started migrating up here, to add to its repertoire. Hence the flash flooding. We also got a tornado, a little ways south of here, last week. And one each in Long Beach and San Francisco last spring. 3 is not a lot for a state, in that time period, maybe, and not for a state so big, but I reiterate that this is California. We get dust devils, we don't get funnel clouds.

SoCal--specifically, the just-inland-of-Long Beach area--is coastal desert running up against marshland/swampland and chapparale, and the rain there has three basic modes. Mist, drizzle, and torrential downpour. It is almost never anywhere in between. "Mizzle" is occasional.

Drizzle is like that; like when a shower head is almost off, but has taken to running like a clogged faucet, straight down in unbroken stream, no drops to speak of. Thick, not particularly cold and not particularly hard. Misting and mizzling (mist-drizzle) are just a step above ocean fog, and feel more like you've been spritzed with an ultra-fine sprayer than rained on. Torrential downpour is the rest of the time. It means floods, mudslides, trees losing their roots, streets running over and gutters running so fast you're like to be knocked over if you step into them, because the rain is coming so fast, so hard, so driving, and in such big drops that it digs its way into everything, overwhelms every drain (most of which are inadequate for it), washes everything away.

My mother had to get a pump. Because whenever it would rain at all to speak of, the backyard would flood up into the house, despite the fact that it was raised a few inches. So in the middle of the night, she'd have to get up, slip across the tile, and start the thing. (Her dogs, of course, are too scared to go out in it, because that's the way they are, so she also had to try to deal with them not being willing to go out to answer nature's call.) Anyway.

I remember once, a long while back. . . At least 9 or 10 years, but probably more like 12 or 13, getting back up late in the evening, when it had started up that way. My parents and Zach and I, with Wolfy and Venus (the dogs before the chihuahuas, who were not quite as afraid), stood at the back of the house with the big sliding glass door open and just watched the rain. It was the heaviest I remembered seeing it, up to that point, but the amazing thing was that, as it was so late and so dark, rather than the glowing stormy sky, everything was black, and the light at the back of the house was small, just enough to shine through the pounding, driving sheets of rain and the several inches of splash coming up from the ground, from them. And make prisms and rainbows of every drop.

It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

No, this is not up to par with hurricanes, and the like, and I know that--that's something, at least, that we still don't get here--but it puts the lie to the nonsense about California only having one season and no weather. It is proper rain. It is violent rain. And this week, schizophrenic--already, the sky is glowing blue, again, and the heat from the new sun is turning the water on the rooftops into great clouds of steam that are wafting away and fading. The streets are already drying out.

I suspect that by tonight, like last night and the night before, the clouds'll be back and we'll wake up to another wet morning.

In other news: the meat has arrived. It is practically black, the color's so deep. Absolutely gorgeous.

Correction: It's only noon (an hourish later) when the rain's returned. With big grey clouds, "cov'rin up the clear blue sky"

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