I Love Rain, But….

January 17, 2011

It’s hard to type when your lap is full of anxious cat. No, he didn’t go to the vet today, but one of the others did. This cat hides when the carriers appear, and, after holing up for several hours, has apparently decided he’s safe for the day. But he needs reassurance that the Awful Doom will not befall him.

We are having an ‘atmospheric river’ event. Rain and rain and rain and rain. But being Oregon, all this non-stop rain adds up to about an inch a day in the valley, up to 3 a day in the Coastal Mountains.

Now I am, as I’ve mentioned before, a bred and born Oregonian. I love the rain. I love all the seasons of Oregon. One of the great delights of the valley is that we have four perfect 3-month seasons.

Spring comes with wave after wave of flowering trees, bulbs, and blossoms highlighted against emerald-green grass and trees’ delicate lace of fragile green.

Summer creeps in gradually; usually by mid July the rain has stopped.  Trees are masses of greens in all possible gradations of hue, accenting the deep evergreens. I hate summer, to be honest. I am not fond of heat. No – I am heat-intolerant. I loathe the long hot spells where we get into the upper 80s and 90s. I wither. I suffer. The grass turns gold, then brown, the trees go limp and tired-looking. Like them, I am longing for the return of the coolness and the rain.

Finally, not a moment too soon, the misery of summer passes, the trees are brushed with the first intimations of their glorious autumn colors, the clouds return, life breathes a sigh of relief (except all them import-folks. Why live here if you hate the rain?). Geese smudge the sky in skein after skein, mournfully honking as they pass overhead.

By November there’s usually a week or so of brittle frost, freezing fog in the morning followed by sparkling blue skies. We slide into winter – cool but not freezing, grey day after grey day, rain, rain, and more rain. Snow is a rare and eagerly anticipated event. Sheep are brought to the valley to take advantage of the winter’s lush grass. Huge flocks dot the green fields like giant cotton balls. Lately they often have a llama or two in the herd as guardians.

I love rain. I did mention that, right? But I have to confess this atmospheric river has gotten to me. Not for the grey skies and non-stop misting, dripping rain, but for the humidity. Over the last few days, the temperature has hovered in the 50s F  with a range spread of less than ten degrees day and night. And the humidity is around 97-98% all day, plummeting to 85% at night. Everything feels soggy. This is why mold is a problem here. And we have astonishingly huge slugs, too!

Where would we be without weather? It give us conversation openers, even tossed off comments to strangers. It defines the seasons, but it also influences our emotions. A rare blue sky in winter lifts the heart where the endless blues of summer are oppressive.

I am unhappily curious about how our weather will change as the climates shift. More rain? Less? Hotter summers? I hope not.

I notice that while the Petroleum Society (which owns the US government) insists there is no incipient climate change, the electric companies, the insurance companies are laying plans against the already apparent changes. I imagine the oil companies are, too – they just don’t want to admit it, so they can squeeze every last penny out of higher oil prices before they reveal a miracle “Oh, look what we have – an alternative fuel source! And since we prevented the government from subsidizing research, we are the only place you can get this alternative energy! Pay up now, suckers”  (Oops. Waxed cynical – no – realistic again. Sorry)

The rain, by the by, is what makes Cascadia so beautiful. Between the oceans, the broad and fertile valley, the magnificent volcanoes of the Cascades, the stark purity of the high desert – all banded within a couple hundred miles, and stretching north into Canada – it is incredibly beautiful. But please don’t move here. Visit, yes, but don’t move here – especially if you’re going to complain about the rain, or insist that bigger cities = better life. You’re destroying Cascadia, and it’s worth preserving. So – fit in. Be green.

An aside: both my children were in New Orleans for a Maths conference recently. They were appalled to find no recycle bins anywhere. How can this be?


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