Ode to Rainbow-Striped Umbrellas

Posted: October 4th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: City Livin', Friends and Strangers, Mama Posse | No Comments »

Invariably when you’re traveling and you tell someone you live in Northern California, you get that tired old oh-sure-it’s-pretty-and-all-but-what-about-earthquakes?! reaction. Some folks will verbalize it, and with others you can just tell by looking at them that they’re thinking it and are silently pitying your poor sense of judgment.

As a longtime NoCal resident–16 years now!–I find the whole earthquake thing an absurd reason to avoid living here. (God please spare us tonight if The Big One should hit.) I mean, there are far better reasons to not live here. Exorbitant real estate prices, atrocious bagels, crappy public schools, the almost spooky lack of corn muffins, the unswimmably cold Pacific Ocean….

Don’t get me wrong. There are many many reasons why this is one of the most amazing places in the U.S. to live, but I’m also aware of the place’s pitfalls. I mean, the bagels. Are. Truly. Dreadful.

Though one thing I will say we’re blessedly exempt from is the maddening small talk about the weather that seems to comprise about 45% of all conversational airtime in New England. Frankly, I’d happily plunk my house astride a fault line to live free of that natter.

It’s not that we’re such brilliant conversationalists here on the West Coast. More likely that our weather tends to be so damn predictable it becomes a conversational neutral. Instead we drone on incessantly about sky-high real estate prices. (I guess we’re still boring, just on different topics.)

But every once and a while you get a day like yesterday, and all those repressed or misplaced weather
hounds come out of hiding. And sometimes they’re the least likely

So when the Friday Mama Posse convened, the mothers and babes in
arms sat at Sacha’s kitchen table, and the three-year-olds occasionally tore past in a howling squealing stream. A couple times in the blur I noticed little Ella B. clutching a child-sized rainbow striped umbrella.

Running in from the backyard at one point she called out triumphantly, “I think the rain is coming, Mama!” Causing Megan to laugh and turn to us, “She’s been talking about this all morning. The girl is so excited that it’s going to rain today.” Mary chimed in that she totally was too. I think we actually all agreed. After the typical six-month or so rain-free stretch, an impending downpour was fraught with novelty. Sure, even excitement.

Throughout the day, I couldn’t help but notice other people looking up at the gray sky, marveling. No dramatic leaf colors. No city-stopping snowstorms. We don’t even have many of those sunny-but-chilly days everyone back East gleefully calls crisp. Sure, you can haul out some heavier sweaters and even boots if you like, though during the days you may still opt for flip flops. Our seasonal changes are more subtle than the showy Midwest and East Coast drama. But to some sensitive California souls they don’t go unnoticed.

As the day wound down I chatted with a neighbor out in front of the house. The sun was setting so early it seemed, and the air was cooling off. The much-anticipated rain hadn’t started yet, but likely would in a few hours. Even though in our mellow family mode we’d be staying in anyway, I remarked it was the perfect Friday night to be home, snugged in warm and cozy, watching a movie.

Back inside, Mark had dinner underway and called out from the kitchen if I wanted a drink. After a moment’s thought, I jumped into the new season with both feet and said I’d take a bourbon and Coke.

Ah, yes. Fall indeed.

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