When I first moved to San Diego, I was puzzled that people invited me out for coffee or lunch “if it’s not raining.” Did restaurants and coffee shops in sunny places like San Diego close in inclement weather? Efforts to get to the bottom of this were initially unsuccessful until it was finally explained to me why Southern Californians don’t go out in showery conditions:
San Diegans do not do wet. We are used to dry. Sometimes really dry. As the joke goes, our four seasons are fire, earthquake, landslide, and drought. But having such a cooperative climate does make the locals really testy when precipitation should interfere with one’s tee (or tea) time. In fact that’s another piece of data I remember from a long-ago Chamber of Commerce brochure: 304 golfing days per year. If one lives here long enough, one comes to feel that there is simply no excuse for meteorological conditions interfering with one’s plans the other 61 days either.
Besides San Diego, I’ve lived in the Northeast, in the Midwest, on the equator, and in Scandinavia, all locales with no lack of rain. The romance can go out of rain pretty fast in those places. In fact, when we lived in Stockholm, I spent two whole summers exhorting Thor to stop with the precipitation already!
Even so, when we moved in Sweden, it caused us physical pain to waste water after so many years of living in drought-ridden San Diego. The hot water in our Stockholm apartment took five full minutes to come in (we think it was coming from Oslo) which meant leaving the shower running that long. We had to stifle an urge to be filling up buckets to be used later for … tossing off our balcony onto the asphalt courtyard below?
Meanwhile, in San Diego a rainy year (and this term would be exceedingly relative) might mean no water rationing come June (hah!), and the waiving of those truly annoying before 10 a.m./after 6 p.m. watering rules on one’s allotted watering days.
I love it when it rains here. One has whole malls to oneself. In my view, nothing is nicer than an afternoon at home listening to a gentle rain plinking on the roof. (It’s much nicer than the more ubiquitous sound of sea bird droppings hitting the skylights , which is more in the splot family.)
Of course, one of the reasons one can truly love rain here is that we get so little of it. The storms come down from the Pacific Northwest, inflict watery mayhem on the entire west coast then take a sudden U-ey at L.A. and head out to Colorado. It’s profoundly annoying. San Diego has been stood up by more storms than anyone could count.
But none of this keeps the ever-optimistic local TV station’s Storm Watch team, lathered into a frenzy at the possibility of a tenth of an inch of rain, from dutifully standing on the beach at La Jolla Shores in their yellow slickers breathlessly predicting imminent doom while the waves in the background lap gently on the sand.
But, they swear, the rain really is coming! And it could be catastrophic! They just look so earnest and hopeful, you want it to rain for no other reason than it would make them happy. And for once, right.
Running out of things to say on the beach, where the storm winds have not so much ruffled a strand on the newscaster’s perfectly coiffed head, the newscast cuts to live camera crews driving around Kearny Mesa where a zoom to the windshield reveals exactly three drops – proof that yes, it really IS (sort of) raining! Cut to green blobs on the TV studio’s Doppler Radar screen which prove once and for all, that … that … somebody somewhere is getting some rain! Just not us.
When it last significantly rained on March 8 (I’m not counting the April 15 drizzle or even the “May miracle” showers on May 6), I felt a definite sadness knowing that San Diego’s Pray-for-Rain season was over and we probably wouldn’t see serious precipitation again until October – if then. Once again, our rumored average 9.5 inch (more hah!) “rain year” rainfall fell short of the mark limping in at around six.
So let the water rationing and the humongo water bills begin. And meanwhile, Thor, I take it all back.
Inga’s lighthearted looks at life in La Jolla appear regularly in The Light. Reach Inga at firstname.lastname@example.org
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