Saturday, January 23, 2010

O, Broken Umbrella

O, Broken Umbrella
Your are useless

Your mangled ribs
Your crushed stalk
Your wrinkled nylon

Once you were the comfort of dryness
Now rendered useless
You litter my drive
My walk
My life

And yet you will not die
You will not leave
So ragged, your wrenched joints refuse to collape
The button which once unfurled you in the glory of one-touch ease
Now sits useless in your handle
You will not even simply fold
To fit in the trash can

The same child who was the instrument of your ruin
Finds you on the pavement and rescues you
To your former place on the front porch

Alas, useless you sit
Without the will to live
Nor the grace to die

O, Broken Umbrella

Take your shattered canopy away
To the great rainstorm in the sky.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Rain.  Finally rain.  Well, in California that's what we say, since we don't get that much.  We're practically doing a rain dance by October each year.  Finally our reservoirs will fill up and the creeks will run nicely.
Yesterday I heard some thunder that lasted so long, I had time to look around to see where it was coming from - at least 30 seconds.  I instinctively looked at the windowframe.  The house we are living in now has old-fashioned windows in some of it, and the one in my office is just a little single-paned wood frame window.  It's facing westish - the direction from which the storm had approached.  I examined the window with my eyes, as if to ask if it was strong enough to hold out the thunder and the clouds.  As if they might suddenly rush at the window and try to break it in.  I suppose that's an unusual thought to have, but then thunder is unusual where we live.

This morning, I awoke to thunder even louder and longer than yesterday's thunder.  I could see lightning through my closed eyelids.  I have never lived somewhere with REAL weather.  I don't want real weather.  I actually expected to look out the front of the house and see sheets of water pouring down from the sky.  I imagined that we'd be rained in and the kids wouldn't be able to go to school until it lets up.  I imagined that driving would be a perilous, white-knuckled journey across town.  It thundered again.  I got up and decided not to shower.  It just seemed silly, in light of all the shower outside.  The last thing I wanted was to be wet.  Now, I don't mind rain.  I even like rain.  But this wasn't rain.  This sounded like RAIN.

And having lived in Sacramento so long, my first concern of course is flooding.  Living behind a levee makes you watch the overflowing gutters with different eyes than someone who lives on a hill.  It occurred to me that flooding, at least in my neighborhood, was unlikely.  Of course, the side of a hill could slide down, and we have plenty of those around here.  But not living on the side of a hill, and not living behind a levee, I can just be glad for the rain.  We drove to school, and it wasn't even that bad.  Of course, it's dark as night out there, and there are still a few days of storm predicted.  But though the thunder seemed frightening at first, it's kindof cozy (if dark) inside.  It may sound crazy to be frightened of thunder, but honestly, if you don't experience it that much, it is rather attention-getting.

It's no wonder the "bible belt" is where it is.  When you live somewhere with actual weather, it reminds you frequently how small we really are.  There's no escaping thunder.

(Special thanks to and all the storm chasers, whose beautiful photographs entrance me.)