Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Who needs an umbrella?

The weather this last week in England has been a chaotic, ridiculous, glorious mess.

First it's windy,  then it's hailing, then it's beautifully sunny, then it's a torrential downpour, then sunny again with a chance of rainbow.  It's warm enough to walk outside in just a sweatshirt but an hour later you freeze in your winter coat.  

And I love it.  Every second of it.  My only wish is that we could get a little thunder in there to complete the package presentation.  

I love the changeability on a moment's notice.  The unpredictability of what will be next.   I sit inside at my desk and laugh, watching the dark clouds roll across the sky, dropping the afternoon sunlight to a dusky blackness, unleashing their havoc and then disappearing again in another breath. 

Four and half years of living in Los Angeles was four and half years of living without any variation in the weather.  Every day was like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day - the same sunny blue skies with wispy white puffs of overly cheerful clouds floating through.  The last year I lived there it didn't rain from February to August.  Not a drop.  There were four days in June that were slightly overcast and hinted at a potential drizzle, which those of us from out of town anticipated eagerly, only to be bitterly disappointed by the return once more of those boring blue skies.

During that last year I heard and became obsessed with the song "Grey in L.A." by Loudon Wainwright.  As he so eloquently put it, "When it's grey in L.A. I sure like it that way 'cause there's way too much sunshine 'round here.  I don't know about you, I get so sick of blue skies wherever they always appear. "  

Don't get me wrong.  It's not that I don't like sunny days.  They have their time and their place like everything else.  I like sunny days when there's a flea market or a wedding or a festival.  I like lovely warm, cloudless days picnicking in the park.  But as much as I don't want rain every day, sun every day is not just boring.  To me it's soul crushing and uninspiring, and drains away my energy and ability to think and create and dream.  Without variations in the weather what do we have to look forward to, to talk about, to wonder about?  If every day is predictable on such a basic level, the rest of your life takes on a monotonous color, like a series of paintings only painted in yellow and blue.  Much as you might like those colors, you occasionally want to look at something else. 

There's a Ray Bradbury short story called All Summer in a Day about a group of kids in a classroom who live on Venus where it rains all the time except for one hour every seven years.  Most of the children have never seen sunlight except for the one girl, a recent transplant, who remembers living on Earth and seeing the sun.  The kids tease her, taunt her and lock her in a closet...and then the sun comes out for an hour and they play outside...forgetting they'd shut her away.  They remember her only after the sun has gone and the rain has once again returned.  

My days in L.A. I often felt like that girl, except the opposite.  Surrounded by days of neverending sun, barely remembering what rain smelled like, tasted like, felt like.  With the lyrics of the song "MyTime of Day" from Guys and Dolls ringing in my head, "And the smell of the rainwashed pavement comes up clean and fresh and cold," I dreamt of that scent, that metallic, minerally smell of the sidewalk as the warm summer rain begins to sprinkle the dirt away.   

I love rainy days.  Misty grey to a torrential downpours.  Perhaps it's growing up in Seattle, but I know many native Washingtonians that think sun every day would be fantastic.  I admit I prefer to be inside when it's raining or in a car or in a tent, listening to the rhythmic pinging on the window or roof.   But give me a booming, window-rattling thunderstorm and I'm a happy girl.  

Otis, on the other hand, isn't too thrilled.  As he really doesn't like getting wet, he's not too fond of the rain, even in his bright yellow raincoat.   

Well, can't please 'em all.

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