Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mother Nature's Gentle Song

An April storm in California's Central Valley takes me back to my youth in the East Bay Area, where years of pedaling an Oakland Tribune paper route allowed me to truly appreciate the pleasures of a Spring rain.
  • It was warm. On route, heavy coats and raingear were never necessary; indeed, such items were too hot for the riding and got in the way of throwing the papers. Light jackets soaked through to the skin, but who cared? Riding in the rain for an hour, getting home and changing into dry clothes was part of the job's rewards. Rain water was good, clean fun.
  • It was quiet. A long time before multi-lane freeways and torturous 5:00 a.m. commutes into the congested Bay Area, the early morning streets were empty of cars and peaceful. Pre-sunrise showers kept the birds still and quiet. The bike's tires made small splashing sounds and plastic-wrapped newspapers made satisfying little "plops" as they landed (almost always where I aimed them!) The cloudy, rainy air deadened any other sounds.
  • It smelled great. Pavement, dirt, lawns and trees gave off the most wonderful aromas when moistened by naturally distilled water. To this day, wet eucalyptus trees and wet desert sage brush evoke sensory memories of those daily quiet hours.
Mother Nature's gentle song was mine to savor again this morning. The bedroom window was open during the night as the rains swept the town, cleaning the air, playing softly on the leaves outside and dripping from the eaves to the ground below. The pre-dawn patter was a soporific*. At dawn, the rains slackened and I was sorry; then it started up again and I was glad. An occasional bird twitter was heard. It was immensely difficult to stir from the rain-induced dream state.

For the first time in a long time, my morning hours were undisturbed by the touchy**, caterwauling*** hellcats**** next door. (Did they head off to Sacramento again?)

{sigh} Too bad it doesn't rain every morning.
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* soporific (adj.)
1. Inducing or tending to induce sleep.
2. Drowsy.

A drug or other substance that induces sleep; a hypnotic.
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** touchy (adj.)
1. Tending to take offense with slight cause; oversensitive.
2. Requiring special tact or skill in handling; a touchy situation.
3. Easily ignited; flammable.
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*** caterwaul (intr.v.)
1. To cry or screech like a cat in heat.
2. To make a shrill, discordant sound.
3. To have a noisy argument.

A shrill, discordant sound.

[Middle English *caterwawlen : *cater, tomcat; akin to Low German kater + wawlen, wrawlen, to yowl (ultimately of imitative origin).]
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**** hellcat (n., informal)
1. a. A woman regarded as bad-tempered and evil; b. a woman who practices sorcery; a witch.
2. A person who torments others.

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