So Much of a Good Thing

Map of California indicating drought status as of January 13, 2023
Image from U.S. Drought Monitor Map/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA

I have rain fatigue.

This is the rainy season in San Francisco. We know to expect that December through February will be wet–although this year the procession of atmospheric rivers, cyclone bombs (WTF?) and their accompanying sequelae–floods, mudslides, property damage, even loss of life–seems to be overdoing it. The mantra, in California, is “We need the rain.” And we do. The unrelenting rain of the last month has been a soggy, cold, disastrous blessing. If you’ll look at the map, you’ll note that there is no where in the state that isn’t “abnormally dry.” Currently a little less than half the state (46%) is in a state of severe drought,. Sounds pretty awful. But wait, what about all that heavy rainfall in the last month? Hasn’t that helped at all?

In fact, it has. A lot. Three months ago 94% of the state was in a state of severe drought (41% was actually in extreme drought). Three months ago 16% of the state was in a state of exceptional drought–and exceptional, in this situation, is not a good thing. So that last month of rain has been a godsend. And given how far the state still has to go in order to be out of a state of drought, I should not complain if we get another month or two of deluge.

Sadly, I almost certainly will. Which makes me feel very ungrateful. My feet are cold, my rainboots are leaky (they’re ten years old and perhaps entitled to have reached the end of their useful life), and California drivers seem to derive unholy amusement from hitting puddles in such a way as to splash pedestrians down to their underwear. A surprising number of my fellow citizens–the ones who think we live in California and therefore it should be sunny all the time–have no idea how to drive in wet weather, which makes them dangerous. Our century-old house is also showing its age, and an alarming tendency to admit water into the basement (after discovering last year that water seepage had damaged two bookshelves and many of the vinyl albums stored on the bottom shelves, we boxed up all the books    preparatory to getting new bookshelves, and yes, the section of the basement to which those boxes were moved started getting very wet, and yes, we lost some books). And it’s dreary: three weeks of almost ceaselessly scowling skies! I’m tired of rainboots and umbrellas! I don’t wanna!

The skies don’t care about my rain fatigue, and thank you for that, skies.

I’m also tired of COVID. I’m tired of masking.  I’m tired of limiting my social engagements (although I’m now going out in the world to a degree that would have sounded like a whirlwind of reckless abandon two years ago). I’d like to be able to get on a public transportation or an airplane without examining the masking habits of everyone around me, or sipping my beverage in quick, fugitive tastes with my mask pulled briefly to the side. It’s all a bore. I don’t wanna. But even with vaccinations and decent preventive measures, well… viruses don’t care. So I have to.

I won’t say Thank You to a virus which has killed millions and changed the world. But I’ll take a lesson from the rain and acknowledge that in some situations it is I who must shape my behavior to the world, and not vice versa.

One thought on “So Much of a Good Thing

  1. I, too, am tired of rain, though we have not suffered from the excesses in our part of Oakland. Our streets drain. And while the basement of our building floods from time to time, it is actually open to the skies in some places so it is designed to get wet, though in normal rain times it usually isn’t so wet that you have to put on rain boots to do the laundry. Yesterday, when we had full-fledged sunshine here on the sunny side of the Bay, was the first time in weeks I didn’t wake up grouchy.

    What I am most tired of is extremes, which, alas, are not going away in our lifetimes, given climate change and the fact that California in particular was settled in 1800s and built up in the 1900s with little regard for how it worked. (This is true many other places.)

    As for the drivers: as someone who grew up and learned to drive outside of Houston and therefore had to master driving in heavy rain and fog so thick you couldn’t see a couple of car lengths ahead before I got out of high school, I continue to be appalled by the way Californians ignore wet conditions on the road.

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