Saturday, October 2, 2010

80% Chance of Sunshine

     What does it mean when the weatherman says there is a 20% chance of rain?  Really?  In my world, Southern California, just 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, it means, at most, a muddy windshield when wet air settles overnight on an already very dusty car.  Why even mention it?

     We started this week at 110 degrees..not a wisp of a cloud in sight.  Then, like a miracle..we woke to clouds for the next two days..thick and rain-laden clouds.  According to the Weather Channel, thunderstorms were pending.  Thunderstorms?  Seriously?  My heart went pitty-pat.  But...ummmm....don't you have to have H20 for that?  What did we get?  Thunder for sure....lightning...absolutely.  And a trip to the vet for doggie Xanax.  Nada, zip, zero rain.  This morning I looked out my bedroom window and saw rain drops on our rooftop.  And that's all she wrote folks.  Thunderheads all around us.....and 12 drops of rain.

     Come on!!!  We need a GOOD rain.  We need the air cleared, the streets washed, heck, I need my landscaping dusted by God, rather my water bill.  Going months with only 12 drops of precipitation can feel like an unusually long stretch of celibacy in a very busy life.  You know what I's that parched, antsy, cranky, unable to identify exactly what's wrong feeling.  A good that makes a person feel like her needs have been met, refreshed, content, connected once more to the glory of life and nature....purring like a little kitten..... a little smiling kitten.  I'm right.  Right?

     I think I must be the only Southern Californian who hates sunshine.  Well, I don't really hate it...I just wish it would go away more often.  I crave clouds.  Just seeing clouds makes me feel hopeful...hopeful that the awful monotony will be swept down our totally unused storm drains in one hell of a thunderstorm.  Just a little cloud will do that for me.  Raises my spirit right up!!  Embarrassingly, in my career I had a rather important management position, but when the bi-annual raindrop shoved its little self out of a cloud and plummeted to earth, I would bolt from my office, dash to the front lobby, and mash my nose against the window marveling at the water falling from the sky.  "Don't you want to go out and smell wet pavement?"  I would ask the forlorn, suntanned faces staring quizzically at me.

     It's reasonable that I feel as I do, of course.  In the 1950's, in Los Angeles where I grew up, just after Christmas in January and February, it would rain for weeks on end.  We didn't have fancy storm drains then, and the water would collect in our street, growing ever higher each day, until we experienced what my father called a "curb to curb".  A veritable river would travel down our block and merge into the confluence at the corner of 76th and Airport Boulevard.  From there the water traveled two more blocks until it dumped into Howard Hughes' bean fields (now the San Diego Freeway).  My mother would zig-zag camping rope all over the living room to hang her laundry and she would put the Army Surplus blanket over the card table to make me a cozy house....a nice place to sip my cocoa with marshmallows and play with my Storybook dolls.

     At school, I adored the rainy day schedule.  During recess we had to stay inside.  In the morning, the teacher would read us a story.  At lunch time, after eating from our faithful brown bags, we would play "Heads Up-Seven Up".  If you were smart you would cheat and sneak a look at the player's shoes when they went by, so that you too could stand in front of the classroom as one of the chosen elite.  But best of all was the afternoon recess, when, in desperation, the teacher would drag out a huge stack of comic books.  The room was as still as a remote mountain top in the dead of winter.

     As a child, I actually owned rain boots.  This tender memory nearly brings a tear to my eye...but I'm too dehydrated.

     Some 15 years ago my nephew moved to Seattle for a management job in retail.   Before that, I really had no idea where Seattle was, besides north of Oregon.  Well, actually, a college girlfriend an I drove through Seattle once, on an adventure to Canada, but we didn't really acknowledge it as a city, more as a place..with fish..along the highway.  When my nephew settled, of course I visited, and fell in love with it.  It is beautiful, that's all there is to it.  It is clear, cool, green and very chic.  There is a rather obvious reason for all that greeness, I learned.  It rains 156 days a year in Seattle, or truly, something amazing like that.

     This concept just blew me away.  Rain....regular, fresh watery rain!  Often!  Wow!  I was dying to move there immediately.  I bought the ever popular VHS "First Step to Seattle" and watched it over and over again.  I wanted nothing more than to slosh.  Slosh, slosh, slosh!!!!!  I dreamed of umbrellas, galoshes, Burberry raincoats, pitter-pats on the roof at night, living on a houseboat, drinking hot tea and baking cookies, curling up with a good book, and perhaps running into Tom Hanks at Starbucks, smiling shyly in a Meg Ryanish sort of way, with little droplets hanging from my eyelashes.    

     Reality systems..............check!

     They say, people in Norway, which gets approximately four hours of sun a day, until winter falls, have a high rate of significant depression, so isn't it logical that those of us who must endure sunshine 12 hours a day, 12 months a year might have similar tendencies?  It's the change I crave , of course.  Life is a challenge and we meet it daily.  We get up. deal with the same responsibilities, drive the same freeways, buy the same groceries, and we are fielding problems as we go.  Surely God means for us to have some variety in life!!  Why else would She have created Rush Limbaugh and Bill Mahr in the same century?  I know, I know....why would she create Rush Limbaugh at all?  But you know what I'm getting at.

     I am still holding out for the return of a rainy season here in dusty, desiccated SoCal, even though experts report that we have a better chance of producing a California state budget in my lifetime.  I have to have hope...hope that I'll finally get to use the adorable raincoat our daughter-in-law, who lives on the East coast, left in my closet five years ago.  Hope that the dying drought -resistant plants in my back yard will once more come to life.  Hope that the skies will open up and Malibu will slide into the ocean, and the happy taxpayers will never have to rescue the poor unfortunate rich people again.  In the meantime, I will just have to muddle through.  I'll make plans..that always helps.....we will have Thanksgiving out on our new deck.  We can go to the beach on Christmas, and to Palm Springs to play golf on New Year's Day.

     I'll bide my time having iced coffee on Panera's sunlit patio with my mother and my daughters.  I'll play in the pool with my grandbabies.  I'll stock up on sunscreen, and sandals, and sunglasses to wear while I'm out there in the 100 degree heat scanning the skies for clouds.  I'll be okay..I know I'm not alone on my quest.  I'm fairly certain our handsome local news weatherman feels just as I do.  He has hope in his heart too.  When he announces there is a 20% chance of showers on a cloudless, 85 degree day, his enormous and colorful backdrop optimistically reads "STORM WATCH".

     I'm watching too, you big lug.  But.....while we wait......don't you think you should maybe go out.....and find yourself a nice girlfriend?