Waiting for the Rain in California…

Andy Hays |
CA drought monitor as of May 14, 2014.
CA drought monitor as of May 14, 2014.

Waiting for the rain to come.  In the wintertime there are fewer things I loath more than the sound of an ice cold rain pounding down on the roof.  Yet come summertime there is nothing that my ears long for more than the gentle pattering on the tin, turning to a more audible soaking roar.  The clatter of lightning and the bass heavy roll of thunder.  These days the mere suggestion of falling drops is enough to get me out of my chair and stick my head outside.  Clouds had been gathering for days, waiting for the rain that seemed to never come.

CA reservoir levels as of March.
CA reservoir levels as of March. Lookin’ low…

Of course the drought had been severe, and quite prolonged.  That the brief sprinkle, that would fail to classify itself as really rain, and would quickly subside only to disappear into the starry sky, should not have come as any kind of surprise to me.  Yet there I stood just outside my door, staring at the night sky, waiting for the rain that seemed to never come.  I was disappointed.

Rain, umbrella, and the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, CA.  photo:  sfgate.com
Rain, umbrella, and the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, CA. photo: sfgate.com

I had never really gotten used to the California climate.  My East Coast upbringing, I suppose, had fostered a sort of ambivalence towards the rain.  It was never in short supply.  It only seemed to happen when you really kind of didn’t want it to.  Dentist appointments were never rained out.  Just baseball games, trips to the zoo, and ironically enough water parks, because apparently water slides and lightning don’t go well together.  That said, I had always enjoyed the relaxing sound of the rain falling against the leaves.  Sleeping in late on a Sunday, with no reason to get up.  Just listening to the rain.  A respite from the heat.  Steamy August mornings giving way to the grand excitement of a mid-day “thunder-boomer” as my Grandmother used to call them.  Something that once seemed as engrained into the summertime experience as fireflies (another regrettable omission to my adopted home) now seemed a distant memory.  Standing on my front steps, watching the moon pass in and out of the clouds, waiting for the rain that seemed to never come.

US Drought Monitor showing California leading the way
US Drought Monitor showing California leading the way

Once again disappointed by the rather predictable results, I slipped back inside.  Despite the gathering of clouds it seemed the rain would hold off for another day.  It seemed impossible that it could continue on like this much longer.  How many days of heat and humidity?  The dustiness had set in.  It seemed as if everything abound was in need of a refreshing bath.  The drought had been both severe and quite prolonged,  the plants it seemed were losing their springtime enthusiasm.  Leaves cowering from the hot sun.  In need of a long cold drink.  Longing for a sustained drenching.  Anything to penetrate the sun parched ground.  Everything waiting together, for the rain that seemed to never come.


I had tried my own personal best, or at least so I thought.  I had washed my car.  I had tried the basic shaking fist at sky technique.  I have little experience in rain dances.  I issued direct challenges, “come on rain,” I would yell, though not generally when other people were around.  Once I yelled and shook my fist at the sky at the same time but I abandoned the effort when I determined it was straying too close to lunacy.  It seemed that my efforts were largely fruitless.

The clouds had conspired to rain if and when they pleased, which might very well be never.  This quite prolonged severe drought seemed bound to continue.  The leaves had been withered.  The creeks had run dry.  The earth remained parched.  Yet through it all my wait for the day continued.  Waiting to stick my head out the door.  Waiting for that sound of rain on weathered tin to return.  Waiting for the rain that seemed to never come.

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5 thoughts on “Waiting for the Rain in California…

  1. Man, as I was washing my dog yesterday, I looked over and noticed my sprinklers weren’t quite reaching the furthest corner of my lawn. At that moment I remembered we were in a drought. I decided to do my part and turn of my 300′ water feature in the back yard, right after I adjusted that sprinkler to touch all four corners. Thank you Snowbrains for bringing attention to this pressing matter. If more people could be pro-active, like I was, we will get through this together!

  2. Wait. Let me get this straight. You’re writing about washing your car during a severe drought in an article that you wrote about a severe drought?

  3. nice one. looking forward to sheets of drumming rain down on the coast and full-on blasting winter up high. come on RAIN!

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