The weather service puts up a notice on Thursday:
Special Weather Statement
… A frontal system followed by an upper trough will bring a
transition to cool wet weather…
Large amounts of rain (an inch or so: large for this part of the world), blustery winds, mountain snow levels descending to mortal levels. The Special Weather Statement wants us to know that spring is receding for a while.
I appreciate the Weather Service’s delicacy. It’s difficult to know when or what to warn about when the warnings so often turn into hoopla for a protracted period of overcast. When the snowmaggeddon predicted during the season’s big snow didn’t materialize, local media howled about a swindle and misleading scientists. Caught in a funhouse world where climate change is a myth and we elect addition-deficient Presidents, I’m sure they thought this one over carefully. Something should be said. People don’t like lectures, warnings, or advice. Just call it a statement. A special one.
The forecast hieroglyphs show dark clouds.
The week warps back to November: overcast, rain, a little wind, highs in the 50s. I sense relief, expectation. The warmth and sun has refreshed the memory of what those things are like, but demonstrate how my west-facing townhouse will be overheated at summer’s height. The fat, smothering light gets too much after a solid week of it. As cheap as I am trying to be I wouldn’t mind the heat coming on, once or twice.
The Special Weather Statement remains through the weekend, portending simple rain and some bluster. Preparing people for disappointment seems to be its main function, as I’ve now lived here long enough to sense the weather will put everyone back into standard issue Northwest jackets and enclosed shoes, faces weighed with hangdog looks. Clouds roll in on Sunday with drizzle by midmorning. I am prepared, meaning it is no surprise.
Dental work first thing on Monday sounds like a sitcom writer not trying very hard, but this is how I’ve arranged it, driving against traffic to the dentist I’ve had for several years. The old guy has given up lecturing stupid kids with teeth falling out of their mouths and handed the practice over to a fast-talking blonde Russian woman, who, like all Russian women in my experience, seems to have commanded infantry. As she and her demure Chinese assistant repair the damage brought on by braces thirty years ago I focus on the rain, the grey.
Outside it’s raining hard enough to form a living, serpentine surface on the parking lot. A flat broad stream of it pulses toward the drain and I wonder why it moves in pulses like that, what causes wavefronts in the constant flow. The same interruptions persist on the freeway, bunching cars up, letting them go.
The week goes on in grey, not so much cold as needing a jacket. Windows look out on spring’s first riot of green, the leaves not so iridescent with no sun to power them. Nobody talks about it, bothers with a coat to walk between buildings. It’s just rain, the local constant.
After a week grey and rain and a little wind are normal again and sun is something that happens to other people, in other places, in other times. Only a light coat is needed, and it’s not cold enough for the heat to come on. Grass which had faded to yellow and brown from the last week’s sun is green and dense again. Water gurgles in drain bottoms.
Drains have always fascinated me. As a kid of seven I can remember peering down into the cast iron grates at school, at curbs, in the strange dark holes in the middle of ditches. Water, dark lumps, apple cores bobbed in the ones at school. I saw the pipes come in, go out, the flow between. Sewer grates with their strange mixed smell of churned decomposition and laundry detergent rose up in concrete beehives, the dark torrent echoing within. We climbed to the tops of these and peered through the small holes. Did it connect with the grates at school? Where did it all go? The sea was a mystery, and distant. Here in the world of cartoons and phonics we watched the water fall in and be carried away, everything neat, the adults with everything figured out.
Rain rings off the glass building, runs down the petite gutters hardly seen on the bus. Windshield wipers pour themselves back and forth, taking long breaks. It is a hard rain but not that hard. It is a change but not a storm.
I don’t have a TV so don’t know if the local tenders of panic are whining in their fetching All American way of this darn rain, but no one in the real world brings it up.
Yesterday the sun returns, halfheartedly at first, then the clouds get the hint. The Weather Service warns of thunderstorms, not so common here. With sun beaming long low orange over the water, thunderheads do bloom by the mountains to the east. There is no noise or flashing, though. Oftentimes the clouds build, huge white prominences with furry heads, but it’s only show.
No storm ever came. No leaves have been knocked loose, but sidewalks are thick with maple seeds.