Thursday, January 21, 2010

List: Rainy Ruminations

We're on day four of rain and wind here in Southern California, and that's just plain weird.

1. We needed rain; we're having a drought with water restrictions, etc. But this deluge falls into the category of "be careful what you ask for": just because you have a craving for ice cream, doesn't mean you want to gorge yourself on the 20-scoop sundae. Everything in moderation, right?

2. We're being chided by our more weather-weary friends to the north and east for whining about the rain. But I claim that the degree to which weather is severe is related to general expectations. If you live in a place where you EXPECT it to be cold and snow to fall from the sky, you've got the snow boots and proper gear to stay warm. You EXPECT to scrape the frost off your car--it's part of the deal. Using this logic, I deduce that San Diegans in a cold snap (say, 40 degrees outside) actually feel colder than their Alaskan counterparts. And we're wetter, too. Why? Because we're wearing our sandals. We don't own rain boots. And we have cheap, flimsy umbrellas. If we have an umbrella at all.

3. Last winter (last time it rained?), I sat at this desk and watched sheets of water pour along the window into the crack between the pane and the molding and down into the wall. The storm drain was clogged, so water was flowing like a waterfall over the edge of our flat roof. There was no doubt that the wall under the window had filled with water; bulging paint bubbles were proof. But, you know, the rain passed and it got dry again and stayed dry and we never hired anyone to look in there and check if brain-cell killing molds were growing.

So, here we are a year later, suffering the consequences yet again of Deferred Maintenance. Storm drain isn't clogged (we're not that dumb!), but there's a nice gap where the window pane meets the molding, and water has wound up in the wall again.

3. Which brings me to the garage, which has always had a roof leak on the left side. Which, again, we haven't fixed. From time to time, there's been dampness, but this week we earned our inches on the floor. We join the ranks of folks who've become so accustomed to, well, no weather, that we've let our homes be holey. There are leaks and floods in dwellings and garages across the county. Maybe we all learned something this time.

4. If you live in a semi-arid region without regular rain, you begin to notice how dusty and dirty everything gets. By the end of the summer, despite our glorious, sunshiney weather, there's a certain dullness to the trees, plants, and buildings. They need to shower. So I appreciate how clean our city is after a good rain. How shiny it must be in Portland and Seattle all the time!

5. Rain at random times--and unseasonal warmth, too, say, in December--means we've got daffodils in January. Poor confused plants.

6. On my way to work today I totally hit that huge puddle at the intersection and sent a tsunami over a poor man on the sidewalk walking his dog. So sorry, dude.

It happened to me once, and it made me cry. Okay, perhaps it wasn't the splash that made me cry, but the parka and the boots and the ridicule and the Chemistry class AND THEN the slushy, dirty spraydown that took me over the edge.

It was freshman year of college, second semester, probably February. When New Haven is gray and cold and wet and somewhat demoralizing (my college actually established "Feb Club" to combat the inevitable February Blues, with a party every night for the entire month). I was trudging my way up Science Hill, against the wind and rain, dressed in my Lands End clearance-sale winter wear: full-length, shapeless, raspberry-pink parka and aquamarine-colored rain boots. Of course, these fashionable items were ordered during the summer before I arrived on my East Coast campus to find earth-tone Patagonia jackets and L.L.Bean duck boots to be all the rage--or, at least, what Everyone Else was wearing.

The necessity of hiking up Science Hill on an inauspicious day was merely adding insult to the injury I was beginning to ascribe to my choice of pursuing pre-med courses, particularly Chemistry. How I loathed that course and the lab.

And so there I was, slogging uphill, rain pelting my angry face as I cursed February, early-morning classes, and titrations, when one of a pair of giddy, probably upperclass science majors heading downhill, shouted at me across the waterlogged street, "Hey! Nice BOOTS!" I stopped and turned to look, just as a passing car soaked me in a wave of gritty slush.

They laughed and I cried. And blamed my dad, east-coast-college grad himself and my winter gear fashion consultant, for outfitting me so outrageously, albeit cost effectively.

7. I have gained greater respect and sympathy for regions plagued by monsoons.

8. The moral of this list is: too much rain (and wind) is not fun rain of the puddle-jumping variety. Power outages, car accidents, floods, trees falling on cars and houses, and deaths pretty much take the pleasure out of precipitation.

We need some good rainbows at the end of this week, methinks.

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