Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy

Baptism -


I have perhaps not expressed how I feel as we in CA have been enjoying and savoring rain and wind and freshness in the air. In my awe and exhilaration, I've kept it to myself.

Verlyn Klinkenborg says it well. It seems he is on the west coast these days, not the east.


Published: January 22, 2010

On the radar maps, the storms that swept across California this past week looked like a series of Rorschach tests in primary colors. They swirled down out of the Pacific only to fracture and disintegrate when they hit land. No matter what measurements you used — snowpack depth at Bishop Pass, swell height data from the coastal buoys or the drip rate off the porch roof — everyone was watching the storms, hoping for a blossoming desert or simply to get over the mountains before the Grapevine closed with snow.

On the ground, the palette was far more monotonous. That’s just the way several inches of gray rain falling from gray clouds onto gray looks. Add in traffic, and you get a towering mist rising over the freeways. Even when the rain let up, you could judge the quality of the coming pavement by the detonations of spray when a car hit a brimming pothole.

Everything about the storms was muddying. The waves breaking just south of Santa Barbara carried a heavy load of sand, stirred up by four days of storm swells. The terraced slopes of a vineyard — not yet planted — near San Luis Obispo were fraying and breaking apart at the edges. At a vegetable farm near Soledad, the fieldworkers’ rain suits, the mud, and the sky all seemed to be a single substance.

I’ve been trying to understand the different feel of these Pacific storms — compared with the nor’easters that vault across my farm in upstate New York. It isn’t just the nostalgic surprise people feel here when thunder and lightning hit Los Angeles. When a nor’easter plasters the Northeast, the rainfall is usually extra because most years there’s been fairly regular rain. In California, of course, these storms are a respite, another deliverance from an arid destiny.

There’s another difference. When a big winter storm tracks eastward across the nation, you see footage of its effects — the icy roads, the downed power lines — long before it reaches you. Not so the Pacific storms. They swoop down on the jet stream, tracking across open water, and when they hit the coast — and California is essentially all coast — they are fresh and vigorous, carrying all the energies of a storm surge with them. No matter that this is old water falling from the sky. It feels like new water, like a baptism.

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