Hear the word “California” and most people’s minds leap immediately into images of sunshine and surfboards, and correctly. It is a part of why I moved here, having grown tired of the frozen condensation on my scarf and eyelashes in the icy streets of Saskatoon. And now I pray for rain.
I did love the monsoons of Murree, Punjab. I loved the violence of the torrential rains pouring on the tin roof above my head, the crack of thunder, the epic but fleeting brilliance of the lighting. The regularity of yearly downpours was refreshing and constant, and though we wished for sunny days in the midst of the deluge it would soon be over.
We had a severe drought in California December 2011 through March 2017. I began to long for rain, first because I was tired of watering our fruit trees. Papayas, avocados, lemons, pomelos, plums, loquats, oranges, pineapple guavas, and mangos take a lot of water! During one four-day spell of exceptional heat the top of our young mango tree burnt to a crisp. The pomegranates are hardy in the midst of dry spells but even they needed something. The grapevines also suffered. So, in botanical compassion, or, more honestly, in a desire to sleep in an extra hour, I prayed for rain. And I began to want it like I hadn’t when it was a yearly constant; loving the days when the skies are gray and I can wear a coat and boots.
Recently I went for a drive in the rain, up in the mountains. You’ve got to be a bit careful doing that in California, because drivers are not used to driving in slippery conditions, and infrequent rains mean water mixed with oil that comes up from the asphalt. But up in the mountains I could see the tops of little hills poking through the clouds below, and enjoy the gentle tapping of rain on the car roof, and smell the freshness of formerly smoggy air washed clean by rain.