parjanya murmured



Today it rained.

I know that means little to everyone else, but here in Venice, the sun has been shining unabated for the entire three months we’ve been here. It hadn’t rained the month before we got here. The blacktop was baked, cracked, there were file cabinets in back yards with papers opened, and a feeling it was never going to rain again.

We saw flashes over the ocean last night, but didn’t take them seriously. Maybe it was a ship beacon? A transformer box erupting? And then, this morning, the wistful sound of water beads hitting the roof, and then the palm trees, and then the pelting plush of drops on grass.

Our power went out, as though the utility poles themselves were caught completely unawares. We lay in the 5am half-darkness, just listening to the rain as though it were a once-familiar song with lyrics utterly forgotten.

Later, the sidewalks were clear. Urine that had stained the pavement for months was now washed to sea. It was a clean slate; you could see through the car window once more. The Santa Monica mountains, usually blurs, rose in the distance with dark peaks set sharp against a troubled sky.

For a few hours, Los Angeles almost seemed human, almost seemed like it had moods, was vulnerable. The devastating sameness, the oppressive sunshine had lifted. Jogged into consciousness, I woke up and missed New York terribly.

0 thoughts on “parjanya murmured

  1. david

    “then the pelting plush of drops”
    “a once-familiar song with lyrics utterly forgotten.”
    “Jogged into consciousness, I woke up and missed New York terribly.”
    simply gorgeous
    We heard thunder this afternoon in San Francsico. I have only heard it here five times within ten years. I am always reminded of the dramatic thunder and lighting soptrms of the midwest, and of sudden 15 minute downpours midday in NC, or seeing the sheets of rain under distant clouds over the atlantic.

  2. Beth

    Meanwhile, here in New York, we haven’t had rain in over a month–the trees are in distress, Prospect Park looks like a desert, and the pollen counts are ridiculous. But the city misses you back nonetheless, Ian! Send us some of that sweet rain.

  3. CL

    Hey, why AREN’T you folks back? Autumn starts Friday. Although it’s going up to 84 here today, so it doesn’t quite feel like that yet. The leaf-peeping will probably start late. And I don’t know when yer pumpkins will peek out.
    For the person who asked the media question a few days ago…the New York Times is about to lay off 45 reporters. The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News will lay off 100 employees (don’t know how many will be reporters). So the likelihood of investigative reporting shrinks that much further – not because the media is evil, but because of money. The idealistic young scribes are still out there.

  4. LFMD

    At first I thought this was a hurricane photo! Apparently, I need some more coffee to wake up! What a lovely post. Reminds me of when Helen was 4 years old one summer. It rained for the first time in weeks, and we both ran around the backyard with the dog, to enjoy the rain. In fact, Helen took off all her clothes and took what she called a “rain bath.” She loved it, and it is one of my favorite Helen memories. Her sheer joy in experiencing the rain, the way she was so comfortable in her beautiful little body, her laughter (which is my favorite sound in the world) — we were out there for a long time, toweled off inside, and then she fell asleep peacefully. She still talks about it.
    Thanks for triggering that memory.

  5. Rich

    What a great entry to read with which to start the day. The rain on the roof (song title from “Follies”) is a simple, yet surprisingly captivating and soothing phenomenon. My family has a cabin on a lake in the woods of Ontario, and those summer rainstorms lulled me to sleep more often than not. Thanks for igniting that memory!
    I have spent lots of time in southern CA and am always taken aback when it rains there, not because of the rain, but because of how people react to it. I remember a rather mild thunderstorm that rolled over San Diego in 1992 when I was workign at the Old Globe Theatre. It was at 2 in the morning, and I awoke to rumbles of thunder, then I became aware of voices coming from the streets. I thought there’d been a traffic accident or something, so I got up and looked out the window. I saw a multitude of San Diegans standing in the streets and sidewalks in robes, tee-shirts and boxers, nightgowns and sweatpants looking in the direction of the approaching storm and reacting vocally with every lightning strike. Their sounds were a mixture of fascination (as if they were watching a beautiful fireworks display) and fright (as if they were witnessing a shooting). It was very surreal. The storm actually bypassed our area of town and by 3, all was quiet again. But it made the local news all day long. It was then that I realized that thunderstorms are very rare there, about as rare as an earthquake in Manhattan (of which we’d had a handful back in the late 80s, but I’ll save that for another time).
    And now I’m late walking the dog and getting to work.
    But thanks again for the peaceful entry this morning.

  6. kevin from NC

    We had a big thunderstorm last night with lots of lightning. It has been very dry here the last 6 weeks.
    I went outside and sat in the rain and just listened….
    Thanks for the read this morning, Ian. k

  7. kaz

    ah, yes, wasn’t that rain lovely. just makes me want to stay curled in bed with tea and a book…
    your description was spot on, except for the stink. tee hee. weren’t you guys surprised by the rare and particularly strong showing of red tide smells down in venice. it stretched all the way to my office in culver city yesterday. blech!

  8. kent

    Uncle Chris used to have the most brokedown MGB ever, with no top, and it was parked outside in Arcadia the whole summer I stayed there without getting rained into.
    Iowa this summer had a bit of a drought, and we went 8 weeks without significant rain, so we got a little of the LA summer experience.

  9. Rebecca

    Ahhh…the rain. I too live in SoCal, and it is truly amazing to see how the locals react. My son’s elementary school drop off lane was a disaster in the morning because kids who normally walk or bike were driven to school instead.
    Here’s a little fact that will amaze people who don’t live here: the kids at his school eat lunch outside EVERY DAY. There is no indoor cafeteria – only picnic tables under a big awning outside. So if it’s raining, they go buy their lunches, and then go eat in their classrooms. (Obviously teachers hate rainy days!) I just find that so amazing.
    We had some pretty severe lightning and thunder in the middle of the night, and so my husband and I got up to watch. Only the 4 year old woke up scared, and so she came to snuggle in our bed. It was wonderful.
    I went to NC and NY this summer, and hoped for a good thunderstorm. I got a little one in NC, but it never rained in the 2 weeks I was in Montauk. I was disappointed. Imagine my surprise when we had one here instead!

  10. KTS

    “Someone told me long ago there’s a calm before the storm,
    I know; it’s been comin’ for some time.”
    Talking about rain being a timely topic! I’m in Austin, something like 200 miles from the Gulf Coast, and Lovely Rita is already turning things sideways around here, though it’s not even supposed to arrive until Saturday morning. I just went out to pick up a sub and a jug of water – not having Rita on my mind at all – and all the jugs of water were sold out at Walgreens. I asked the clerk what was going on, and he said that everyone was freaking out over the hurricane because of the local newscasts.
    Then I went to the mini-mart, and at the water section a girl was grabbing several jugs of water. I told her what happened at Walgreens, and she said that she went to Walmart and K-Mart, and they were sold out of water. (Except for a 12 pack of plastic bottles, which she nearly got into a fight over, after a guy tried to take those bottles away when they were rightfully hers, because she saw them first, and she had to chase him down the aisle to get them from him.)
    While buying my 6 gallons of water, the mini-mart cashier proceeded to inform me that his family is from Houston, and he’s got 20 relatives crammed in his 2 bedroom apartment. A college girl getting into her car in the parking lot said that the rented house where she lives is now filled up with her relatives from the Galveston area. And that it’s almost impossible to get out of Houston. She was rather peeved that one of her friends said that this might mean that the Austin City Limits Music Festival would be shut down, like that made a difference when caring for your family is more important.
    CNN is projecting Rita to being a Category 4 when it hits Texas land, and a “hurricane Category 1 close to Austin.” What? That’s nearly 200 miles inland, folks. It’s never happened before. At least not here. Also, hurricanes tend to cause tornadoes.
    There was an eerie feeling tonight. I felt it when I first stepped out of my apartment and heard police sirens. Tomorrow, for me, it’s off to buy canned goods, more water, liquor and gas for the car. That recent post about what to have on hand in case of an Emergency was most helpful.
    Maybe it won’t amount to much more than a helluva storm, which I safely enjoy watching through my picture window – with the electricity and air conditioning on – that pours down tons rain while the wind beautifully thrashes the branches of the trees.
    But who the fuck knows?

  11. Ian

    KTS – Hunker down! And everyone should have one of those crank radios you get at Sharper Image, even if there’s never a disaster – they’re so much fun to play with.


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