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Inclement Weather, and Quotes from Saint Joan

The rain has been seemingly incessant. It was ingrained in me throughout my youth not to be a “complainer.” However, seeing as how I am now firmly into my middle age, I am, on occasion, given to indulging myself in a bit of complaining and I will tell you, I think I’ve had it with the rain this year. I think I’m ready for this winter to conclude. Of course then I think perhaps one shouldn’t tempt fate because summer will arrive as quickly and suddenly as it ever does, or seems to, and no doubt by the end of July I’ll be trying to keep from complaining about the heat. It is possible that we’ll have an “unseasonably cool” summer following this incredibly wet winter and spring, such is the nature of the weather and trying to predict it, and the folly of bothering to complain about it. How much rain have we had? Here in the valley as of today, we’re at 100% of our normal rainfall for the year, usually this time of year we’re at around 70% of our total rainfall for the season. There are plenty of places in California that are well over one hundred percent of their rainfall totals for the year. I looked it up. ( Here.)ย  The rain doesn’t care what our plans are, or would be. The clouds part at inopportune moments, it sometimes seems, though perfectly according to their own schedule. I think there’s time to throw on a jacket and get outside for a few minutes but by the time I do, it’s beginning to rain again. Or I’ve started some other chore in the house, or gotten into the middle of writing something, and have to hope the break in the weather will hold until I’ve completed the task. The Crocus bulbs I planted last fall are beginning to bloom. There haven’t been enough dry days to keep up with the weeds, or plant other flowers or seeds, so the blooms are there among the black, shriveled, petunia stems, and strange, sprouted, I -don’t-know-whats, courtesy of the birds and the wind. Whenever it rains like this we talk of the rains of the winter and spring 1997/1998, when it seemed as though it would never end, and the little, walled-off, courtyard area off the porch of the house we were renting, was perpetually full of two feet of water, sometimes it was three feet. Though really the year before that it rained so much that the water broke through levies, flooding up to the very edges of Interstate-5, making for an eerie drive at night on occasion as one could hear the water lapping at the road.

I’m ready for the longer hours of daylight. I’m eager to get to work projects that require warmer weather, a consistent temperature so that I might get to painting walls, and cabinets. I’d like to get those flowers and other such planted. The rain has brought with it the kind of cold that gets into one’s bones and joints. Damp, dank, cold, weather isn’t a friend of those who’ve used their bodies, jammed their knees, elbows, backs, necks, what have you, nor of those of us with arthritic complaints, or those of us to whom both those conditions apply. Keeping in mind that it is still and only California cold we’re talking about here. One day last week, when it didn’t rain at all, temperatures were in the low sixties. There are those robust individuals whom wear shorts and flip-flops, or at the most, tennis-shoes, with shorts and a hoodie-sweatshirt, year round. Dry winters are often colder, but then it is a different kind of cold. Dry winters give the kind of cold that burns the nostrils and makes a person acutely aware of how thin their socks are. Of course, it is California, so, we need the rain. These are the things people say, “We need the rain”, or “It isn’t the heat, it’s the humidity”, or “But it’s a dry heat.” Perhaps if it rained like this at least every other year, we’d be allowed to water our yards more than one or two days a week during the warmer months. Stranger things have certainly happened.

The hours inside, the grey days, have caused me to consider buying one of those lighted visors like they wear up in Alaska, or wherever it is, to help keep from getting depressed. ( Is that what they’re for?) Not that I don’t love a good wallow now and then. Not that I don’t love the change of seasons. But, the novelty of reading “Frankenstein” next to the crackling warmth of a nice Duraflame, has worn off. This winter has reminded me of a particularly awful winter in Oregon, when I was a child, of day after day after day of getting up and rushing to look out the window in the hope of seeing a clear sky, in the hope of getting outside, only to see the window streaked with rain. This winter has also reminded me of a school I went to, in California, after that, where rainy days were declared “Inclement Weather” days, recesses were spent inside, playing Heads-up- Seven-up, or spelling games. I recall marveling at “Inclement Weather” days. In Oregon, we went out to recess anyway, unless it was really pouring. “It’s Inclement Weather.” Says who? Those where the years when many of the teachers still referred to the “restroom” as “the lavatory.” “Yes. You may go to the lavatory.” Some boy said, “But I’m not a scientist. I just have to pee.” And he was sent to the office. Consider that, no smarting-off was at all tolerated, class-clowns were summarily squashed before they could get one giant red shoe in the door. (My favorite, new-to-me, expression, heard last year sometime is, “trendy clown shoes.” Likely infinitely funnier than trendy clone shoes, or, trendy clown shows. ) Clearly, these days of inclement weather give one entirely too much time to consider such mundane things.

So I’ve managed to be reading a thing or two here and there and some of that is ever back to the work of Saint Joan. I’m rearranging some furniture in order to make it easier to listen to record albums, that is, to put the turntable in a more easily accessible place. I’m a big believer in form following function. I like things to look nice, decent at least, but if it doesn’t function, if it can’t be utilized then what good is it? I believe in living in one’s living spaces. This rearranging things has resulted in some bookshelves needing to be replaced. Seven bookshelves, particle board, not ever intended to be permanent, that I purchased ten years ago, that are now down to three, that are no longer functional as needed for the space we are in now. Really, I think I paid thirty-five dollars a piece for them at the time and can’t complain at all about how well they’ve held up, considering how much stuff I’ve crammed onto them and how often they’ve been moved around. But what I got to thinking about was how long ago it was, a decade, since I bought those shelves. Joan Didion advises that we not lose touch with who we used to be, even if we don’t much care for who that was, in some regard, as a matter of keeping ourselves in check. I think it is sound advice. I’ve likely quoted it before. Sometimes we “hear” things in a new way, or understand them, comprehend them, more deeply with time. One of the things I most love about the work, the writing, of Joan Didion, is her insight with regard to the condition of being human, or the human condition. I also think, or hope I’ve learned, to complete my contemplating before engaging in commentary upon such. Ten years is a long time, and it is the blink of an eye. Perhaps these cold, grey, days are serving a greater purpose for me after all, and I will remember them well in the heat of July. Perhaps one should endeavor to take no season of life for granted, but to appreciate each for whatever it brings to us, and its own sake.



(quote memes curated from pinterest)