10.03.2008

Rain, or The Potential of, or The Dream Of


O Frabjous Day! Calloo! Callay!
I don't want to excite your anticipation too much, but I think it might rain tonight.
To really appreciate this moment, you have to understand that here on the central coast of California, we really have only two distinct seasons. Wet and dry. And we are in the last gasp of the dry season, when everything in the garden and forest around us is wilted, cob-webbed, and covered in dust & other bits of the summer's detritus. I think our last rain was at the end of May, and since then, what with a summer full of wildfires and hot winds, resevoirs are at a serious low and we are facing drought conditions. I think this might be my least favorite time of year, actually. I find myself daydreaming over memories of green moss, puddles of water and the sound of rain in the trees around me. The majority of our sylvan experience here is about the evergreens, (which means, for the non-tree literate, that they will not be losing their leaves this autumn); everything looks like it needs a good drubbing. I can't bear to hike in our redwood forest right now, too much dust and wilted foliage. Actually, quite a few California natives go dormant in the summer for this reason, to conserve water; the California buckeye, (Aesculus californica) for example.
Tourists: An Autumnal Caveat
This is the thing no one tells you about visiting our part of California this time of year: the summer temperatures extend into October, and the usually frigid Pacific Ocean is actually swimable sans wetsuit, but everything is just so dry & dusty, and besides, the locals are getting a little grumpy. I think it's the coastal fog that saves us, keeps us hydrated until the rains start up again around this time of year.
And so imagine my delight when a massive cumulonimbus began to edge its way across the afternoon sky yesterday. "Long time, no see!"


Kama'aina
We ended up downtown at the Hula Grill tonight, feeling too tired to cook. I love the Hawaiiana thing, so fresh-faced and full of 1950's optimism, though a little heavy on the bare-chested hula girls for my tastes. Stylistically, it really manages to walk the line between sleek & clunky (all those bamboo picture frames and tikis.) It is, however, in marked contrast to real life in Hawaii, which in my experience was more about the white wicker furniture (I'm thinking of a really hideous combination radio/end table which was no doubt procured from a hotel auction); trying to find something besides white food to eat (pork laulau, sticky rice balls, rice pudding, poi,); avoiding the local 24-hour Jawaiian music station (mix between Jamaican & reggae-blech); gagging my way through endless glasses of syrupy guava juice; and being made fun of by fat local men in pick-up trucks. I didn't exactly fit in. Oh, speaking of clouds, let's not leave out mention of the little storm we encountered just months after moving in. Check out this wiki link, and read the section on Kaua'i, particularly regarding the aftermath, it is very accurate. Just a mite harrowing. It's fitting that I'm thinking about Hawaii tonight, we just got done with a visit from my dad & stepmom, who still live over there (G calls him 'Hawaii Grandpa'), and also because I'm thinking about rain. Kaua'i hosts the wettest spot on earth, the fabled Mt. Wai'ale'ale, (why-uhlay-uhlay). This means waterfall, which you will agree is an apt moniker when I tell you that it averages over 460 inches of rain a year. It rises up from the center of the island, and is usually accessed by helicopter, mountain goat, or menehune. The joke is that if you don't like the weather, either drive for 5 minutes, or wait for 5 minutes, and it'll change. No one carries an umbrella, not worth the bother of opening & closing it every 5 miuntes. I moved there right after high school and stayed a few years. I actually loved it, bad food & music aside. There's a lot to love. It is the home of the ukulele after all...and the opening scenes of Fantasy Island.

Oh, & one of my favorite little known things about Hawai'i is its state motto. It's much better written down, so you don't have to listen to my ridiculous pronunciation:
(ahem:)
Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono. Which translates: The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. Isn't that fabulous?
Hey-I gotta go, the rain's just starting........!

3 comments:

b said...

"sweet summer rain...like God's own mercy..."- the Devil in 'O Brother Where Art Thou'

rosa said...

er...exactly.

M. L. Benedict said...

We only got a very light rain, but already all the plants have suddenly revived!

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.