Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rain, Rain, Come Again

For the last five days, we have been getting rain aplenty from a storm that swept in from Alaska to the San Francisco Bay Area. While rain and sun play hide-and-seek during the afternoons, the nights are filled the sound of continuous downpour, a tap-tap-tap that haunts and mesmerizes. The clouds parted one night just so to reveal a full moon and a tremulous Orion, and I also noticed that the bare ash trees were beginning to leaf.

We needed this rain, or else a drought this summer would have been inevitable. The hills were already turning brown toward the end of January but now they are a wet green, punctuated by the yellow of mustard flowers.

Reading the local paper, though, would give you the idea that somehow the rain is interfering with the essence of the Golden State. "Oh, February, must we go through this again?" wailed the San Jose Mercury News. And what if we didn't go though this? What would a drought do to a state already hobbling financially from slashed budgets and cut services? The rain offers a glimmer of hope but sun worshippers cannot see beyond their stupid pleasures and so moan and whine.

Driving on Hwy 280, I saw the first rainbow of the season, a perfectly poised arc over downtown San Jose. Its deep colors stood out against the dark, rain-soaked clouds but what was breathtaking was the white of the gulls flying languorously in the sun-dappled sky. The palette of white, black, red and blue was a gift of the rain that motorists zooming by seemed to have no use for.

Taking the Bascom Street exit, I found the tall palm trees lining the ramp bathed in a magical golden light. It is impossible to capture with words or with photographs the ineffable beauty of this light. Next moment, clouds covered the sun and the elusive light was gone.

There is snow atop Mount Hamilton. The alpine scene will no doubt inspire many San Joseans to head for the slopes soon, perhaps to Lake Tahoe and Ski Valleys nearby.

Tender and delicate pink plum blossoms absorb the rain and light up parks and pavements. After many years I see flocks of red-winged blackbirds darting between trees and empty fields. Their trills, oka-lee, oka-lee, is the music of meadows and streams and spring. It is the music of love and longing, and I feel a restlessness for long-lost joy and sorrow that only the rain can calm.

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