Weather Report: Some rain, finally

by Yule Heibel on August 22, 2004

In Northern Hemispheres: Delusions

August is a vicious month.
It walks on legs unsteady,
Made prickly by a previous
Winter’s weight of bad choices.
Well stuck together by the colder months,
Held fast internally they were, yet seemed to move.

But July’s heat unglued these parts,
The conglomerates of histories,
And stumbling,
August can enact the full disaster
Of merciless summings up
Where disparate bits of acts
That once cohered into a whole
Are counted into little pieces stripped of greater worth.

July already was headless —
The dessicating heat took that part first.
But August loses its standing
Seemingly entire, until
The whole explodes in a soundless shout,
And it’s up to a wiser September
To start a new beginning.

August needs the kindness we give to rotting meat.
Best taken out of circulation, best put away, en vacance,
Till decomposition has made of it a different thing.
In a later month, fecunded by time,
It will become a different story.

Someone told me that the native Garry Oak explodes when suffering from extreme drought stress. Unlike my imaginary August, the Garry Oak doesn’t have legs, but, if my source wasn’t kidding, it ejects limbs, popping them off with a bang (i.e., not soundless). We finally had some rain yesterday. It was the first significant rainfall in months and months, notwithstanding the little bits of spittle we had a couple of weeks ago: those evaporated as soon as they hit the ground. Yesterday’s rain was real, managing to soak into the parched ground at last. After nearly two decades of Atlantic weather where one could count on lots of rain in the summer, I’m still getting used to these extremely dry summers. Coincidentally, I heard Andrei Codrescu on the radio the other day, lamenting the endless rain which plagues this summer in most of the US. He suggested that in the Pacific Northwest we must be used to it, but that the rest of the continent isn’t, and I thought: what is he talking about? This particular corner of the Pacific Northwest is in what pilots call a blue hole. True, in the winter, we get drizzle, but it’s nothing like the rain one sees on some Massachusetts spring or fall days. One day last October, everyone in Victoria seemed to be up in arms about the rainfall of the century — which in fact was a wet blanket compared to the flash-flood type conditions I’ve seen elsewhere. At other times, a gentle, drizzly rain — occasionally whipped into something more forceful by winds — haunts our late fall and winter, and lasts into spring. Things grow year-round, except in summer when lack of water puts them into dormancy, but it’s not unusual to see blooms in December. Well before spring is over, the dry season starts: this year, we stopped having rain in early May, I think. Even April was fairly dry, which was really unusual. That’s when people started watering their lawns in earnest, and I began looking forward to torturing into dormancy the little patch of lawn I do have. (I’m not partial to tending lawn.) By June you’re wondering whose children you can sell to afford an efficient irrigation system because you’re losing the battle with the garden hose and your perennials and shrubs are croaking. When summer is in full swing, I become increasingly distracted from any kind of head-work: the relentless daylight (long long evenings lit up by sunshine), the dry, desert-y conditions that seem to demand silence, but which are instead answered by insomnia caused by the non-silence of the unending traffic which you can hear so well through all the opened windows, the roar of float plane traffic, the bells of Christ Church Cathedral, the Esquimalt train, the bridge traffic, the open-air concerts at Centennial Square… And the sun that starts up again at 5 a.m. when normal people should be asleep… Aside from the heavy metals and other pollutants spewed into the air by the cars and trucks (which don’t have any environmental emissions restrictions on them, courtesy of the Canadian and British Columbia governments), there are simply no particles in the air: no moisture, no humidity, no rain. This is why the air has no power to buffer, and everything travels in a kind of immediacy, albeit with arrested development, too: things only get so far before they stop to demand water. Well, it beats hot-hazy-humid weather hands down, and the winters are so easy here, too: surely my sun-and-drought-induced insanity will be temporary. Thank heavens the world is round, and turns, and that people, with the help of the moon, thought of parsing the year into named months. That way, sometimes one can regress into anthropomorphising and feel a little high on sniffing that old glue.

{ 1 comment }

maria August 23, 2004 at 12:56 pm

Ah yes … Those interminably long summer days up there; I remember them well, and I miss them. But not those incredibly short winter days! Of course, where I lived, in Vancouver, there was rain … and more rain … regardless of the season.

As for here, in this part of California: we had that intense hot spell in March, and it’s been cool, really cool (like the Vancouver of my memories) ever since! Who knows what’s in store for September and October, when we often get the hottest weather.

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