It woke her from a deep sleep. The familiar rhythm of rain on the rooftop. She sighed in pleasure snuggling against her husband knowing there were a few hours until the alarm went off. Just as she was happily drifting off, a thought jolted her awake and she rose and went to the window. Raising the shade she could see the rain in the streetlight’s beam bouncing off cars and puddling in the gutters. She tiptoed into the living room where the large shadeless window revealed a broader horizon. It was pouring. She suppressed a tiny chortle. Slipping back into bed, she nudged her sleeping spouse. “It’s raining,” she whispered in his ear. He groaned and turned his back on her. She settled under the covers smiling, her eyes wide-open. For a second she considered waking up the kids but common sense prevailed. So she lay still listening to the rain, realizing how badly she missed it.
It had been about four months since they had moved from New England to Los Angeles. One hundred twenty days of brilliant blue sky, low humidity, and near perfect temperature. Of course she knew about the Mediterranean climate prior to the move. In fact, her husband’s passion for the Weather Channel and endless prattle about meteorology had filled her head with all kinds of facts and terminology that she doubted she’d ever need.
What she hadn’t known was how she felt about weather. How deeply the seasons were rooted in her body, how much she longed for the punctuation of rain after days of sun. In October she was unsettled when the days got shorter but not colder. She ached for signs of fall. Her summer t-shirts and flip flops felt so wrong as Halloween approached. Her kids wore shorts to school everyday and usually came home without the sweatshirts she made them take in the mornings. They showed no signs of missing the change in seasons. They carved the Halloween pumpkin outside in the sunlight and didn’t even ask for the hot cider that had been part of the ritual in New England. They were thrilled to Trick-or-Treat in flimsy costumes without the encumbrance of winter jackets. Every weekend they asked to go to the beach where they happily dashed in and out of the water with the dog barking at their heels. She had learned to keep sunscreen in the car and smeared it on their faces every morning in the school parking lot after another mom transplanted from the midwest had clued her in.
She felt like she barely knew her kids anymore. They had morphed from indoor kids to kids that needed to be hauled inside after dark. They loved being outside and who could blame them? Every single day was beautiful. It was too much. She was exhausted.
She dropped the kids off at school relishing the fact that she didn’t have to get out of the car to chat in the parking lot with the other parents. Then she went home and stood at the kitchen window watching the storm sweep across Hollywood and settle over downtown. When blue sky appeared in small patches in the late morning she felt positively cheated. By noon there wasn’t a cloud in sight. She felt her joy dissipate and depression set in.
She wanted a whole day of rain or even better several days. Gray, inhospitable, don’t-go-out-unless-you-have-to days where the darkness of the sky would welcome the secret corners of her soul. She could be moody and withdrawn, no social smile pasted on her face. She could be herself. Not the well-scrubbed and overly manicured version of herself which is how she felt under the unforgiving California sun. She could nest, read, make soup, maybe take a nap. She wondered if napping was even a thing in LA. Probably not with all the goddam sunshine.
Her husband suggested a hike as the dog needed exercise and it had turned into such a beautiful day. Reluctantly she laced up her sneakers and they headed to the canyon, the dog whining excitedly from the back of the van. As they made their way up the muddy trail she thought of Thanksgiving only a week away. Memories of past Thanksgivings made her homesick. She pictured the kids bundled in their snowsuits leaping out of the car and racing up the driveway thrilled to be at Nana’s house. It was always cold. It often snowed.
It wouldn’t snow this Thanksgiving, she was sure of that. It probably wouldn’t even rain. She felt a lump in her throat as she thought of their first holiday without family and friends. She’d miss them all of course. But what she’d miss even more was the frigid air, the leafless trees, and the knowledge that winter was coming.