Last Sunday an atmospheric river passed by over my home. Also known as a Pineapple Express, as the storm originated near Hawaii. It was also called or menacing sounding “Bomb Cyclone” or rapidly strengthening storm. I live on a houseboat that was jerking in the gusts of winds and rocking in steady swells that pulsed underneath me. Rain streamed down all my windows in steady, heaving patterns.
Pelicans were out feeding on the bay and my dog Flora Jayne, I have learned, can hold her pee for many hours when it’s raining outside.
These kinds of storms make me a bit nostalgic for Alaska, as these sideways rains and gusty gales are often the conditions we worked in, sometimes for days or even weeks in a row. I remember the dread I felt while listening to the pouring rain on the roof as I pulled on my socks, watching water streaming down portholes or window as I drank coffee, then putting on rain gear and heading out, with as much good attitude as I could muster. But once I was in the rain, it was just rain – the dread proved to be the worst part. Sometimes light or heavy, but the personalities of the winds made all the difference. I learned that there are chinook winds, crosswinds, dust devils, mistrals, and siroccos. Gentle zephyrs, persistent trade winds, and airstreams breeze by up high in the sky. Monsoons, twisters, typhoons, and whirlwinds crisscrossed the globe. I now add to these “bomb cyclones.”
I also remember finishing work and taking off my raingear. How it felt to replace my wet clothes with dry ones. To pour a cup of tea and to sit and listen to the wind and water, to watch whirligigs spin across the surface of the sea, as if dancing the waltz. Once, I spotted an eagle navigating gusts to fly over the ocean looking for the glint of a fish below the churning surface, cutting in on the dance of wind and rain.
Northern California has been in extreme drought conditions for over 200 days. We’ve all been hoping, asking, praying for rain. Well, it arrived. Maybe not how we envisioned
it or a bit more than we hoped for all at once. But I’m thinking of Mt. Tam, which got over17 inches of rain this week alone. The Redwood Creek watershed started pumping to life with rivers full of water, rushing to the sea; branches and logs jumbled in the streams, creating safe, deep nooks for
wild salmon, the mushrooms pushing up from the ground, breaking through wet leaves. The way scents will raft up from the wet earth and fork out between the trees in currents and eddies.
The rain promises a lot. What gets me most excited is the promise of mushrooms. There are still a few spaces left for the upcoming Fantastic Fungi Weekend at Camp Ernest. Get your ticket soon and let’s explore what the rain brings.