The Rain

Thank heavens it’s raining–and just when I thought I couldn’t stand the suspense one minute longer. The Rain, as I have learned since moving to northern California eight months ago, is something to be reckoned with. Surprising, perhaps, in that none of that substance falls from the sky for at least six months out of the year, sometimes more.

Rain, which is different from The Rain, doesn’t happen here. No summer evening thunderstorms, no sudden cloudbursts–no rainy days blighting summer picnics or setting newlyweds off to a soggy start.

People here talk about The Rain all year–and dread it for as long. Not me. I would have been that way for major parts of my previous pasts, but now I like the idea of having the weather enforce an indoor policy, at least for a part of the year. That way I can get something done.

I should clarify, however, what I mean by what kind of weather I find acceptable in the role of imposing limitations on my activities. I don’t mean cold, as in The Cold that is much more than a reality check in the northeastern parts of this country.

I lived in Vermont for much longer than I would have, had my brain not been seemingly permanently frozen as the result of the annual 30 straight days of 30 below temperatures during January alone. I may sue the state of Vermont for the permanent damage its weather has most likely inflicted in terms of destroyed gray matter.

Coming from Vermont, nothing had prepared me for people who, instead of living in dread fear of The Cold, had similar sentiments toward The Heat. And that’s what I found in Atlanta where I went to thaw out–and then stayed, on and off, for 20+ years.

At first I couldn’t understand all of the dread of The Heat–I was just so happy to be out of The Cold, and no longer shivering my way through July and August. I loved the warm, soft southern nights that didn’t require me to take a parka whenever I went out after 6 :00 p.m. My new southern neighbors, however, referred to those same soft nights as “hot and sticky.” Eventually, after several years, I came to see their point.

So, when I arrived in northern California, I thought I was free of the extremes–no more Vermont-style Cold, and no more Atlanta-style Heat. And for the most part, that has been true–although I’m back to parka toting in July and August.

What I hadn’t counted on was The Rain–both its existence as a designated entity, and more precisely, the blatant dread of it. It was getting to the point that I was thinking dread of The Rain had overtaken fear of The Big One (the fabled all-time big earthquake that scientists continue to expect will halve the size of California in one giant shake), which by stark contrast, almost no one here ever mentions. Maybe it’s less stressful to focus on the lesser threat.

In any event, the locals have had me in a perpetual state of supreme suspense and lengthened limbo for weeks. When is The Rain going to begin this year, and should we already have started work on The Arc that will be our only hope of survival? The commonly conveyed idea is that once the first drop falls, non-rainy days are all over until next spring. Non-stop deluge for at least four months. Still better than six months of The Cold, or four months of The Heat–or so it seems from here, before the starting bell has rung.

So when I woke up yesterday to Rain, I assumed it was The Rain, and that was exciting after so much talk and anticipation. I was breathing such a huge sigh of relief that the release of that single breath could have been enough to trigger The Big One. But wait? What happened? Today there is no more deluge. Was this a case of false advertising or just a false alarm?

I’m back to holding my breath.

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