Lint-Trap 1/8/01: Wet and Crackly

Wet and Crackly


I've always had trouble sleeping just before it starts raining. Wrong kind of ions or something, I guess. So last night I lay awake as the hour crept past 1AM until I finally heard the plop/plop of a few first drops on my skylight. The next thing I knew, it was morning.

In a manner of speaking... It's very foggy. I can gauge the fog by how far I can see. I can see the street and the white horses in the yard across the street, so it's not as bad as sometimes. But anything past that is white--like someone took an airbrush or used Photoshop and just wiped out the rest of the universe. It's profoundly unmotivating to think that I have to get up and go out into that stuff today. And I never quite feel like I'm really awake on days like this.

And my phone sounds like somebody put a popcorn popper on it. I was barely able to make the trouble call on it. Probably water in the works somewhere.

When I first came to California, I was so amused by the way the 'natives' react to the sun. When the sun goes behind a cloud, they all turn on their headlights and start talking about how terrible the weather is. But after being here for almost 15 years, I'm right up there with them. A vague sense that something's wrong if there's no sun and it's not correspondingly foggy. That rain is a kind of temporary insanity by Nature--but don't worry, she will soon come to her senses.

I had expected to be bored by the weather when I moved out here. After all, no rain for 6 months of the year. On the East Coast, everything you planned had a 'rain date' (or even, 'snow date'). Many were the damp barbecues that I attended standing in the garage watching the host grill hamburgers while the guests and their kids stood (respectively ran) around spilling ketchup on the couch.

But the weather here is endlessly facinating. In the summer, the fog cradles us in the morning and eases us gently into the hot days. And then reappears on the hilltops in the evening, looking like a snow-capped range most incongruent with the 90-degree temperatures. And the wind. Rarely intense, but always present. On those few days the wind doesn't blow, pollution builds up and everybody is red-eyed and grouchy.

And the rain mostly doesn't cause much trouble even if you go out into it unprotected, but from time to time can wet you to the skin in seconds. And lots of rainbows, frequently double. Living where I do, I've even seen a dusting of snow now and then. Exceptionally well behaved snow--falls down, melts on all the roads instantly, and makes everything else look magical and beautiful.

Despite the 'boring' weather, we have had some corking storms. A few years ago, winds of 148 miles an hour were recorded in San Francisco Bay during one intense storm. Last year, as I was leaving to go to Hawaii for a Huna class, I was home packing when the power went out. I finished packing in the dark with a flashlight (and forgot several things as a result), then set out to drive to Diana's house since we had an early start the next day.

Turns out a 100 foot Douglas fir had come down across the main road leading from my house, taking out two power poles and a transformer. The wet but cheerful utility guy said he thought they would have it all fixed by '3 or 4'. That's AM! I thought about going home, finding a wind-up alarm clock, and leaving in the morning. But I knew Diana would be frantic (my cell phone didn't work in the downpour either). So I set out to take the 'back way'. And got lost. So I took the really really back way. The first sign that I was in some trouble was when the other lane of the road seemed to be getting narrower. The hillside had suffered an attack of liquid laziness and decided to lie down into the road. I noted these effects with interest but kept driving.

What really got my interest was when my lane suddenly got narrower. It looked like some huge retilian monster had taken a bite 15 feet across out of the asphault. I moved into the other lane and was most of the way around the bite before I realized that it wasn't just the asphault that was missing, it was the whole mountain.

About this time, I started to have visions of being stuck on this lonely road for days while all my friends went to Hawaii. Cell phone still not functioning. And then the rocks started appearing on the road. Nice wastbasket sized ones first, that were easy to drive around. And then a couple of bigger ones. Finally, two Volkwagen-sized beauties that I had to squeeze around with my right tires almost off the road. At this point, it was clear that I was not going to turn around and go back.

Oh--did I mention that it was pouring rain this whole time--like 'turn your wipers up as far as they will go and you still can't see' rain.

To make a long story short, I ended up finally at sea level, where I was able to make it back to Santa Cruz and over the hill to Diana's. The trip that's usually 1/2 an hour was 3 hours. I felt like I had had a rite of passage, and had earned my vacation.

The main road from San Jose to Santa Cruz is called Highway 17. It is one of the most dangerous roads in the Bay area, largely because people drive like idiots on it. The road is steep, narrow, many sharp curves, and has a lot of truck traffic. The trucks have a 35 MPH limit going downhill that they mostly observe (the scars from where the gasoline truck overturned, caught fire, and sent flaming gasoline 200 yards down the highway are still visible). Of course, this 35 MPH limit makes the machos crazy, so they drive 70 out of spite. I spend about half of my commute on this road every day.

It's also a beautiful road. Lots of tall fir and redwoods, occasional views to break the monotony, and a sweep to the curves that is relaxing and soothing. If only I were the only driver on the road!

So this rainy, broody morning I'm delaying my commute in and doing some work at home. Let the idiots wrap themselves around trees and each other and get well unwrapped before I venture forth. And, with luck, the phone company will get the popcorn popper out of my phone. And the sun will come out.

Thank you for reading.

Copyright © 2001 Pete Stevens. All rights reserved.