Dark clouds brighten my day

My Thoughts, exactly

» Jim Chase

If you’ve seen a friendly, middle-aged guy around town the past week or two with a ginormous grin stretching from ear to ear, that would most likely be me. Why? Because it has been raining, of course. A lot. And as my wife, kids, relatives, neighbors, UPS driver, people in line with me at the grocery store and regular readers of this column know all too well – I love the rain. I can’t get enough of it. Seriously.

Being the eternal (infernal?) optimist, I keep a rain gauge in our back yard – which around here is usually like carrying around a pair of ice skates in the Sahara. And yet, last week, my under-used rain gauge registered well over ten inches of rain from Sunday night to Saturday morning. That’s more rain in one week than we often get over an entire year.

Knowing my affinity for the wet stuff, it never fails that about the time everyone’s tans are beginning to fade and moss is growing on sidewalks, some friend or relative will ask if I’ve “had enough rain yet?” My answer is always no. Nyet. Nicht. Not ever. No way. No how. I honestly can’t imagine how much rain would need to fall, for how many weeks or months in a row, before I would wish for the clouds to part and the sun to shine. And yes, I’ve spent lots of time in Seattle. And Portland. Very happy time.

Even as a kid walking home from Monte Vista Elementary School, I’d take a “shortcut” through Two-Strike Park so I could walk along the flood channel, stopping every so often to watch in awe as the runoff water coursed down the concrete channel, listening to heavy rocks tumble along, pulled by gravity and pushed by waves of water. Then, I’d climb up the grass-covered hill to the upper baseball field and stomp through the “lakes” of water pooled on top of the red dirt of the infield like a fifth-grade Godzilla trampling through Tokyo Bay.

Sure, I can appreciate when the sun burns through the clouds at the end of a storm like a high wattage floodlight brightening the world below. Last Sunday, a pastor at my church described the tack-sharp views of the landscape and hyper-saturated colors after a rainstorm as like suddenly seeing the world around us in HD. I couldn’t agree more. But even then, I enjoy those gloriously sunny, post-rainstorm moments much more if I know there’s another storm or two out in the Pacific heading our way. I know, I know. There’s something wrong with me.

In addition to much needed moisture (and, unfortunately, the threat of dangerous mudslides), our recent storms brought something else to town – celebrity media types. Along with other supah-stars, Al Roker from NBC’s Today Show was in town for several days, having flown directly here after capably covering the developing devastation in Haiti. It’s strange seeing streets, homes and hillsides you’ve known all of your life broadcast all over national airwaves, followed closely by the inevitable calls from worried out-of-town friends and relatives asking, “Are you okay? Have you been flooded out yet?”

I get a big kick seeing where the national news folks say we live during any given broadcast. Last week I saw the identical block at the top of Ocean View labeled onscreen as either “Los Angeles,” “North Glendale,” “La Cañada Flintridge,” “L.A. County,” or “Greater Los Angeles” to name a few. I live here and I’m lost.

As I write this, forecasters are predicting another series of strong, wet storms headed our way over the next two weeks. I wonder if the national media will be back to broadcast more breaking news of impending doom and destruction. If they do, and you happen to see some wildly grinning nutcase in the background bouncing up and down with joy … that will be me.

I’ll see you ‘round town.