Soft Rains and Healthy Brains

While enjoying the sound of a soft rain outside my window, I looked for articles that explain my sense of euphoria with each passing storm.

hummingbird-in-the-rain

Anna’s Hummingbird having a drink at one of the feeders

Apparently I’m a pluviophile!

According to an article in LifeHack

People who love rain bask in their experiences. They can describe the rain in vivid detail, from the mesmerizing pitter-patter sound, to the hypnotic way each drop magnifies and changes the scenery on the other side of the window pane. Pluviophiles appreciate the scent of a fresh storm and the delicious feel of water dripping down their skin. They even know the taste of fresh drops as they look upwards with arms outstretched and welcome a cool drink from the clouds.

It’s nice to be understood. There are dozens of articles on the mood-altering effects of rain, most of them describing how people feel sad or out of sorts when it rains.

curb-garden-variegated-plant-in-rainIt took some digging to find an article supporting my rain-loving ways. I quickly forwarded a copy to my older son. He’s home from college for the Thanksgiving break, and heads out the door every time it rains. He loves it as much as I do.

My garden certainly appreciates the rain. The plants stand a little taller, grateful for the cleansing rinse. Leaves brighten to a shiny green as the plant’s roots welcome the long, steady drink.

sweet-peas-after-a-rain

Sweet Peas, blooming for the second time this year

This Anna’s hummingbird took a shower from the branches of the Chinese Pistache. Apparently he’s a pluviophile too.

Anna's hummigbird in the rain

Male Anna’s Hummingbird enjoying the rain

Post-Election Processing

I read a blog post this weekend that resonated with me, so I’m sharing it here. Martha Brettschneider writes of the benefits of mindfulness to help us process and move forward in a positive way.

She described the election outcome as triggering a sense of “social mistrust.”

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal explains that social mistrust is a stress response to not feeling safe, respected, or valued in our community. It’s a deeper, more toxic level of stress than your normal everyday stress, with even stronger physiological impacts on our health and well-being.

You can read the full article here.

Martha discusses ways to transform your stress from “paralyzing to empowering.” If you’ve been struggling with this as I have, than this article is for you..

I’ve done a number of things in the past ten days along these lines. I’ll share more in a future post.

Robins and Daffodils and The Case of the Missing Rain

If the Daffodils are up, it must be February. Who needs a calendar when you can look out your front window and see this:

daffodil closeup

Daffodils: Just the Beginning

I’m amazed year after year that those tiny, brown orbs buried beneath the soil know exactly what to do and when.

For years I drooled over the Holland Bulb catalogs, but so many of the flowers need a really cold winter to do well. I tried tulips, refrigerating them first for six weeks in the crisper. Time in the cold environment simulates winter. The first year nothing came up. I wondered if I planted them too deeply or perhaps upside down. Maybe they rotted in the ground? There was no evidence that they’d been devoured by a critter.  I tried again about a decade later, once again lulled by the promise of beautiful tulips in my garden. About half of the bulbs produced beautiful blooms, but by the following year I was down to one.

After a bit of research I learned that Daffodil bulbs (narcissus) are toxic to squirrels so they leave them alone. They don’t require a cold winter and they can stay in the ground year round. Now that’s my kind of bulb.

Using the broadcast method where you toss the bulbs to the ground, then plant them where they land, I filled the curb garden box with 50 bulbs.  Every last one of them bloomed!

daffodil collage feb 5 and 10

Daffodils: February 5th and 10th

daffodil trio

Daffodil Trio

Emboldened, I bought 25 more bulbs the following year, this time the two-toned variety. They’re coming into bloom about a week after the original planting.

pair of two toned daffodil

What’s Up, Buttercup: A Two-toned Daffodil

Also outside my kitchen window this past week: A thirsty flock of Robins.

three red robins

Trio of Robins

Though the American Robin is common throughout the States, we don’t usually see them flock in our neighborhood. Over the past two weeks, no doubt prompted by our strangely warm, spring-like weather, they’ve been gathering in nearby trees and drinking at our watering hole. Robins are handsome birds with an equally delightful song.

They prefer a meal of worms, but once the ground is frozen, they’ll migrate and then feast on berries. All that flying back and forth between trees means they’ve left quite a mess in their wake. You take the good with the bad, right?

I made myself late to Pilates last Thursday as I went into the kitchen for some water and fled for my camera instead. There were at least a dozen robins, one sitting in the water fountain, and the rest taking turns for a drink. By the time I put the microchip in the camera, then found a place to take pictures hiding around the corner of the garage several had moved on. I still got a few shots in and around my MacGyvered watering hole and garden.

robins drinking from the fountain

Robins taking turns at the watering hole

The garden is coming alive with color.  We’ve had ten days of unseasonably high temperatures but only a trace of rain. Today, San Jose may tie a record high set in 1943. February is traditionally our rainiest month. In a state that counts its rainfall in fractions, February is the star with an average of 3.31 inches (8.41 cm) of rain. Our annual rain fall is only about 15 inches. It’s February 15th and we’ve only recorded 0.05 inches! So while it sounds uncharitable to complain about blue skies and warm weather…well, I’m complaining.  We desperately need more rain.

If your swimming in surplus precipitation, please send it our way.

Negative Ions and The Wondrous Benefits of Rain

blueberry leaves in the rai

Blueberry Bush After the Rain

My love affair with rain dates back to my youth. I feel a sense of euphoria as clouds gather and a lightening in my heart. Once the rain falls, I have an intense desire to be outdoors. Last week I pulled a few weeds in the rain and it was bliss. Unfortunately my foot started to throb, not happy about the flex involved in the weed-pulling crouch. If not, I would have been out there for hours. It’s all about the negative ions.

According to WebMD

Negative ions are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that we inhale in abundance in certain environments. Think mountains, waterfalls, and beaches. Once they reach our bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy.

While this doesn’t explain why some people hate the rain, it speaks volumes for my personal sense of glee. As clouds gather, I have more energy, an enhanced awareness of things around me and a feeling of joy. It’s extraordinary.

Daisy like yellow flower

Daisy-like yellow flower

As I drove home from physical therapy today, I heard an interview with author Cynthia Barnett. Her book Rain: A Natural and Cultural History has just been nominated for a National Book Award. I couldn’t wait to come home and look it up.  The synopsis reads:

Rain is elemental, mysterious, precious, destructive.

It is the subject of countless poems and paintings; the top of the weather report; the source of the world’s water. Yet this is the first book to tell the story of rain.
Cynthia Barnett’s Rain begins four billion years ago with the torrents that filled the oceans, and builds to the storms of climate change. It weaves together science—the true shape of a raindrop, the mysteries of frog and fish rains—with the human story of our ambition to control rain, from ancient rain dances to the 2,203 miles of levees that attempt to straitjacket the Mississippi River. It offers a glimpse of our “founding forecaster,” Thomas Jefferson, who measured every drizzle long before modern meteorology. Two centuries later, rainy skies would help inspire Morrissey’s mopes and Kurt Cobain’s grunge. Rain is also a travelogue, taking readers to Scotland to tell the surprising story of the mackintosh raincoat, and to India, where villagers extract the scent of rain from the monsoon-drenched earth and turn it into perfume.

Perfume!!! How has this escaped my grasp for so many years?

Fragrant Pink Hyacinth

Fragrant Pink Hyacinth

As I write this, clouds gather.

tree reflecting in rain on deck

Magnolia Tree Reflections on a Rainy Day

Rain is on the way.

Be still my heart.

IMG_1520

Poetry and Rain: A Bit of a Ramble

rainy day

Mouse doesn’t understand why I’m outside in the rain

 

Dancin’ In The Rain

So what if it drizzles
And dribbles and drips?
I’ll splash in the garden,
I’ll dance on the roof.
Let it rain on my skin,
It can’t get in-
I’m waterproof.

~Shel Silverstein

Rain

The promised rainstorms arrived in earnest late last week. What a welcome relief. Locals refer to these tropical storms as the Pineapple Express. They arrive from Hawaii, drenching us in warm rains, instead of the colder storms that push down from the north. You would never know it was February.

I reveled in the refreshing, cleansing rain and I’m sorry to see it go so soon.

The week ahead promises record-breaking heat in its place. I find it disorienting adjusting to this new normal.

Poetry is Dead

[The opinions that follow are not necessarily those of the blogger, nor do they reflect the opinion of our funder.] Funder? Oh I crack myself up.

On the drive home yesterday, my youngest son mentioned his school assignment: find and memorize a poem for a poetry slam. Both he and his older brother think that poetry is dead. “No one writes Greek poetry any more, Mom.”

I happen to like poetry. I defended my opinions and pointed out that the songs they love are poetry set to music. They weren’t convinced. The conversation ended when we got out of the car. Clearly I was outnumbered. But today when I rediscovered Silverstein’s poem the memories flooded back. My boys may have forgotten all those years we snuggled with a good book (including poetry), but I know that all that early reading laid a foundation deep within their brains. I read to those boys every night, many an afternoon, in book stores and in libraries. The backseat of the car always had a stash of books and I kept tiny books in my purse.

Poetry isn’t dead. It’s merely on an extended holiday, along with the rain. In the interim, I’ll drum my fingers to the rhythm of “it’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring.” Across the room, my son’s Beats™ go on.

All or Nothing: Rain in San Jose

rain on the street

Over worked storm drains send rain water down the street (that’s our curb garden on the left)

San Jose received about six inches of rain last year, marking year three of our drought. A more typical rainfall averages 12 – 18 inches annually. With that in mind, you can appreciate how welcome our recent storms have been. Unfortunately, the past 24 hours brought rain in the other extreme. Here’s what Accuweather had to say:

A Flash Flood Watch and a High Wind Warning are in effect for the San Francisco – Coastal North Bay including San José. Moderate to heavy rainfall and high winds are expected with flash flooding possible across northern California.

mid day rainfall

Mid-day rainfall

The public should closely monitor weather forecasts and take precautions. Driving conditions may be very poor at times during this severe storm.

stranded car

Stranded car. Police on the scene, help on the way

Several area schools closed for the day and we were all encouraged to stay home if we could. My husband worked from home and to my relief they cancelled a business dinner in the city due to power failures and flooded streets. I’m glad he is close to home on a night like this.

A few of the storm drains on our street backed up for a few hours, but otherwise it’s been okay. The North Bay, about two hours from here, took the brunt of the storm which continues till early Friday morning. It’s been an interesting day.

Downed trees and power lines are the biggest safety risk in storms like this. I learned something new today as well. After several years of drought, large trees shrink their roots in an effort to conserve water. When heavy rains hit all at once, trees are at greater risk of falling. I never knew.

This beautiful pine tree shades our garden year round and provides shelter and exercise for the squirrels. The tree grows in our neighbor’s yard at the corner of our shared fence. An arborist thinned the tree canopy just three weeks ago. At the same time they declared the tree healthy and in sound condition. What a relief.

pine tree pruning

Neighboring Pine Tree Gets a Trim

Californian’s enjoy moderate weather year round, so this is a big deal for us. Other parts of the country experience heavy snowfall, tornadoes, hurricanes and bitter cold. We simply suffer the occasional heat wave and of late, this confounding drought.

My hope is that the rest of the Bay Area weathers the storm as well as we have, and that we can appreciate this gift of moisture for our rain-parched state.

Wherever your are, I hope you’re safe, warm and dry. Cheers to you.

Rain Glorious Rain

I woke up to a bracing shower Saturday morning, when Lindy knocked over my water-glass.  She’s normally nimble-footed, but that particular trip across my nightstand lead to an invigorating soak.  The water doused my pillow, the bed sheets and of course me.

Sunday morning I woke up to the real deal: rain dropping softly on our parched state.  It didn’t last long, but was wonderful nonetheless.  Everything above and below looks refreshed.  The sky seems brighter, the garden greener and the nearby hills are visible once again. February is off to a great start.

view from the deck

View from the deck

Rain is in the forecast over the next two days. Gathering clouds outside my window are a welcome view.

cloudy skies

Cloudy skies, happy birds

The Little Free Library weathered its first storm.  Books are coming and going, but staying nice and dry behind closed doors.

Little Free Library

Little Free Library

Little Free Library

Little Free Library

What’s the weather up to in your neck of the woods?

My favorite weather is bird-chirping weather. ~Terri Guillemets

Cloudy with a Chance

chance of rain

I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high, but I’m a hopeful person by nature.  The local paper says “Chance of Rain” over the next three days.  It’s cooler today; breezy too with clouds coming and going.  It feels like rain for the first time in weeks. I’m ready!

Here are the current stats for San Jose:

  • Rainfall month to date: 0.01″
  • Normal month to date: 2.63″
  • Season to date: 1:57″
  • Normal season to date: 7.64″

According to International Business Times:

California is facing a severe water crisis, and experts fear it could get worse. Climatologists report that the 2013-2014 rainfall season is well on its way to becoming California’s driest period in more than 400 years. The country’s most populous state is entering its third year of record-low rainfall, and now scientists are raising the alarm that “megadroughts,” which haven’t been seen in hundreds of years, could be just around the corner.

By all accounts, the weather is off kilter around the globe.  We’re desperate for rain, while others have too much.  The east coast has record lows, the Canadian prairies have an early and heavy winter and New Zealand is only now seeing true summer days.

Is this the new normal?

Meanwhile, please enjoy the talented Gene Kelly, singing and dancing in the rain in one of my favorite movie scenes of all times.

Rain, Glorious Rain

After an incredibly dry year, I’m so happy it finally rained.  Twice!  That’s a bit of a big deal around here after one of the driest years in memory.  We’re semi-arid to begin with.  We need all the rain we can get.

sweet peas in the rain

Sweet Peas refreshed

The air smells wonderful.  After a few hours of grey clouds, followed by sunshine, I feared we had already seen the last of it.  Then around 1:00 this afternoon, another storm blew in.  I’m loving it and enjoying it while I can.  We’re back to ‘sunny and 68′ F (20’ C) by the weekend.

hyacinth emerge

Hyacinth emerge

Our season runs from July through June.  Season to date is typically 2.18″. We’ve recorded 0.66.”

I realize it’s all relative.  Parts of the world are shoveling out snow.  Others are already fed up  with wind and rain.   Super Typhoon Haiyan besieged the Philippines and the mid west state of Illinois will take years to recover from late-season, powerful tornadoes.  Such devastating losses our weather can bring.  My heart goes out to everyone suffering  these profound injuries and loss.

Today, in my little corner of the world, I’m happy the rains are falling.  I’m also filled with gratitude for all I have.

'Maori Sunrise' New Zealand Flax

‘Maori Sunrise’ New Zealand Flax

Relief Efforts Around the Globe:

Rain, Glorious Rain!

rain globeWe’ve had abysmal rain fall this year, one of the driest winters in two centuries.  Spring arrived, but omitted the April showers.  Last month ended with stifling heat waves. Though areas of the country and the world wish the rain would stop, it’s a welcome respite here from so many dry, dry months.

If you’re among those fed up with umbrellas, boots and long days indoors, my apologies.  Too much of anything tries our patience and gets on our nerves.

Our skies are already clearing, with sun in the forecast tomorrow.  So, just for a while, I’m enjoying our rainy day.

salivia in the rain

Salvia Refreshed (Is it just me, or do those tiny raindrops look like a pair of eyes?)

sunflower gathers rain

A tiny pool of rain gathers in the center of a sunflower

hummingbird in the rain

I think the hummingbirds are enjoying the rain too.

lavender reflections

Lavender reflections on the rainy deck.

DSC_0274

Rain= snails and weeds
It’s a gardener’s life

What is Nature up to in your corner of the world?

 

Raindrops on Petals

My Favorite Raindrop of the Day

It’s nothing to write home about, but we finally got a bit of the wet stuff.  Drizzle. Precipitation. Rain.  According to our local paper we can expect more storms this week. I’m pretty excited.

What fun I had today chasing down raindrops gathering in the recesses of plants. I spotted the first snail of the season, too, but so it goes with gardening.  Nature vs nature.  It’s hard to take sides.

I am sure it is a great mistake always to know enough to go in when it rains.  One may keep snug and dry by such knowledge, but one misses a world of loveliness.  ~Adeline Knapp

Refreshed

Lemon Drops

The Pause that Refreshes

Slipping and Sliding