“There’s a kind of hush, all over the world, tonight, All over the world tonight, people just like us are falling in love…” Les Reed and Geoff Stevens
The rain has been falling for days here in California. Notoriously dry, the weather here has brought storm after storm this winter. We are grateful. And also, we are hearing news reports of mud slides in the Santa Cruz Mountains, people without electricity for day, highways closed when lanes become impassable to traffic. When I first moved to Northern California from the Midwest, I expected sunny skies – every day. In the winter of 1981-1982, though, it rained day after day; I’d arrived to this sunny place in an El Nino year, famed for bringing storms.
But this year is different. Weather forecasters describe these storms as coming from an “atmospheric river,” or the “troposphere.” Moisture starved farmland is now flooded. Ever since New Year’s Eve, a parade of showers – even thundershowers, a rarity here – have me checking the weather app on my cell phone by the hour to see if it’s safe to go for a winter’s walk. Most days, I manage a few walks during breaks in the storm.
Rainstorms don’t bring the kind of quiet that accompanies certain snow falls in the Midwest, which I remember nostalgically every winter.
One New Year’s Eve before I arrived in the Bay Area, a group of friends and I – women and men – gathered at a friend’s apartment on the East Side of Milwaukee, a beautiful, flat area of the city whose streets are lined with homes and apartment buildings built early in the last century, to call in the New Year together. That New Year’s Eve, it snowed. The snow came down in a particular, quiet, soft way – no wind. And so the lot of us put on our coats and boots and went for a walk before the passing of the year at midnight. As we walked, the snow covered the sidewalks and our boots made dark patches on the sidewalk where we’d passed. Our voices were muffled by the snow. We left our mark, but only for a few minutes, as the snow gathered – gentle – again, covering our path behind us. Our voices were dimmed by the presence of the snow, covered, also.
When it’s cold out – really cold out, not Mediterranean cold, like here in the Bay Area – it’s pleasant to sit inside a warm, cozy house to gaze out at the quiet snow falling. Not many storms come in like that, most accompanied by strong winds and ice forming as quickly as the snow falls.
Quiet. Like cozy, and like the heart rending moments of Indian Summer, I miss that certain quiet.