Monday, October 22, 2012

The First Rainy Day of the Rest of Our Lives

I live in central California, where we have two seasons: summer and winter.

Between each season are a couple of weeks that I like to call "pre-summer" and "pre-winter" -- the temperature begins to turn in the other direction, leaves start to grow or fall, depending, and the thermostat needs to be adjusted, just slightly.

I told this to a friend once, a person who lives in a part of the world where there are four distinct seasons, and she scoffed. You don't have a winter! she said. You have three official seasons: pre-summer, summer, and post-summer.

And even though I know she's probably right, I'm sticking to my initial assessment.

Today it rained, and for me, that means winter is here.

* * *
Last night we slept with the window by the bed open and the duvet pulled right up to our chins. Baxter took up his customary spot under the bed, and the cats, feeling the chill in the air, abandoned their nightly wanderings to cuddle up on top of our covers. Copper prefers to sleep directly in between my head and W's, which is fine, except when he purrs too loudly or puts a delicate paw on my forehead or decides he needs to stand, circle, and find the right spot again. Which is to say, it is never fine. Roscoe is a perfect substitute for a thick pair of socks, but every now and then he pounces on one of my feet, just to remind me that he's in charge. We have a snuggle-claw relationship that is decidedly unhealthy.

Somewhere during the night, it started to rain.

"Do you hear that?" W whispered.

I did, but I made him tell me what it was, anyway.

It had been a long time since the last rain.


This morning, Baxter insisted on his walk, although it was blustery, cold, and a few stinging sprinkles were hitting the ground. I located the boots I hadn't worn since last Mach, at the start of pre-summer, and shook out the cobwebs. After a little digging in the hall closet, I found W's massive winter coat, the coat-to-end-all-coats, and slid it on. Good thing, too -- Baxter and I had only covered half a block before the deluge began.

Baxter, unhurried, made his way through the streets. I trailed six feet behind, loving how the rain drowned out the sound of street traffic and the distant, omnipresent drone of Highway 99. Leaves fell at our feet and we trampeled them, gleefully. Baxter's undercarriage was coated with a slick layer of mud -- all the dust and grit from six rainless months rising up to meet his stomach.

We had the park almost to ourselves, save for a few homeless men who had moved their belongings under the overhanging near the restrooms. One of them called to me, "Don't you know it's raining?" and I called back, "I'm loving it!" Rain has a way of bringing us all together -- homeless people, best-loved beagle, and the person who should be writing her novel instead of dithering over her blog.

At home, Baxter and I dry off and curl up together on the couch. We look out the window, where branches shake and tree limbs bow ever-so-gently.

Winter is here.