Happy When It Rains

It’s raining.

Has been for hours: a constant drizzle, pattering relentless on our roof so loud it drowns conversation if we’re in opposite corners of our house, fifteen feet apart.

Tonight we’re at Mount Madonna County Park, at elevation in dense woods where hiking paths snake beneath the redwood and oak and eucalyptus canopies high overhead, promising fragrant, mud-slicked walks and lungs full of bracing, moist air.

This morning we broke camp in the rain from our four-day riverside stay in Big Sur, near Pfeiffer Beach – of the purple sand and relentless wind and waves crashing white foam through sunlit rock doors of the igneous behemoths that squat in the surf. Cascading echoes from ceaseless, overlapping waves compound to a mighty rumble and tumult, like a roaring bellow from Earth’s own Spirit Lion.

pfeiffer beach

Just down California-1 from Pfeiffer, ten twisty miles and thirty jaws-agape minutes south, is McWay falls, where the McWay Creek spills from a verdant overhang to drop where the beach and ocean meet, eighty feet below. It’s all too precious to allow gawkers a close approach.

McWay Falls in Big Sur

From the cliffside Big Sur drive, the Pacific, hundreds of feet below and infinite miles west, sparkles silver on corrugated turquoise, as if put there to be admired for lazy hours from lofty perches. At one of our many such stops, vultures and hawks wheel overhead. Seals squall far below. Unending waves compete to overreach each other in perpetual chase of the tide as it claws up the sand, each spill of foam another claim on higher, drier, lighter sand, and all a temporary gain, fitfully relented with exactly as much roil when low tide comes.

Water from the sky. Water along the ground and falling through the air. Endless, endless water to every vantage west.

And we’re heading toward more of it. Over the next six weeks we’ll wrap our California tour with brief oceanfront visits and extended rainforest stays among the giant redwoods.

Such stark contrast to our months in the deserts of Utah and Nevada and Arizona.

And so welcome.

Because besides the delight we feel huddled in the cool mist, hearing a stream babble next to camp, or captivated by ferocious ocean breakers, there’s another boon from this aquatic bounty.

Every mile of our California criss-cross reminds us where our country’s produce is grown: in orchards and vineyards and greening furrows and quonset-covered berry patches. On terraced hillsides and miles-flat valley floors. In artisinal organic farmlets and horizon-spanning, industrially regimented agricultural enterprises. And all of it thriving on water, most from the dammed Colorado River but torrents more from California’s own ranges and rainclouds.

So we’re happy when it rains.

Even if it’s so loud we can’t talk about it.

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