Pockets Of Joy

Winter will pass, the days will lengthen, the ice will melt in the pasture pond.
The song sparrow will return and sing, the frogs will awake,
the warm wind will blow again.
All these sights and sounds and smells
will be yours to enjoy, Wilbur–
this lovely world, these precious days …
E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web

As I sit in my home office watching the trees bend in the wind and the water stream down from stormy gray clouds, I confess to myself that I am sick of rain. These massive storms, these atmospheric rivers have been rolling in since November of last year. While I am grateful to see the end of California’s two-year drought and a thorough soaking of our previously bone-dry earth, it’s enough already.

I wonder if the rain gods overheard my cavalier proclamations of the past about how much I love hail, thunder & lightening and torrential downpours. How cozy I feel watching Netflix bundled under a weighted blanket. How lovely the dark skies look set off by tree skeletons and the bright green hillside. And then decided to call my bluff about just how much I rain I could take.

Born and bred in California, I have sunlight running through my veins. When I’ve lived other places, the call of the sun has always pulled me back. Navigating nine years in Oregon when the kids were young left me feeling pale and soggy. When we returned to California after Jimmy started college, Dan and I spent Molly’s fall softball season sitting with our faces turned up toward the sun. The other parents, clustered together in the shade on those 90-degree days, shook their heads in bewilderment. We need to dry out after ten years in Oregon, we explained. We have to warm back up. They got use to the spectacle, but I don’t think it ever made sense.

2023 has been a hard year. In what’s felt like a stream of endlessly rainy days, I’ve spent too much time indoors and very little time moving my body. Instead of getting more productive, I’ve spent long hours listening to the rain beat down on the tile roof or watching the wind make the cherry tree branches dance. On the darkest afternoons, I’ve napped, something I rarely do. The days have felt long even as the weeks have raced by.

It’s only been in the last few weeks that I’ve found myself paying more attention to the weather patterns. Noticing there are windows of time with no rain then timing my walks with Buster to coincide with the clearing instead of rigidly waiting until 4:00 pm and complaining because it’s pouring … again.

Buster and I have the streets to ourselves on these soggy strolls, except for the kids at the bottom of the hill who call out a cheerful greeting to my peppy little border collie as he prances next to me in his wheelchair. Despite all the rain, so much of our neighborhood is still in bloom. The ceanothus bushes peppered with cobalt blue flowers. Pale lavender-pink blossoms clinging to the redbud trees. The magnolia tree around the corner covered with magenta flowers that look like water lilies clinging to the bare branches.

Worry stays behind at home while we walk, Buster and I moving in sync in our little cocoon of companionship. His post-accident pace forces me to slow down and pay attention. To see the mallard couple swimming in a rain-born puddle in the middle of a grassy field. To smell the scent of fresh rosemary. To listen to two tom turkeys in full mating regalia, strutting around to impress the hens and hissing at each other as if to say “Back off. I’m the best one.” To feel the way the sun, as it pokes through the clouds, warms my back and the top of my head. A sweet reward for venturing out. A gentle reminder to cherish these precious days.

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