Upon driving 400 miles today from one end of California to the other, i witnessed what was probably the last sunset of what could under any means be called 'summer'. The summer slips away into what could be felt immediately after the sunset.. a restless south wind filled with moisture and saturated with change. I'd like to say that i noticed the change on my own, noticed the crispness in the air, the way the leaves were softly jarred from the trees, those fluffy clouds above the hills which held the faded, moist hues of fall instead of the dry, distant face of summer clouds. But perhaps i was just open to the realization that summer had died after noticing the swirl on the satellite picture, 200 miles west of the coast.

this summer hasn't been totally dry. Some years this valley doesnt see a drip of rain between June and November. This year it rained three times.. twice from dying hurricanes to the south and once when the fog from the Pacific pushed in so hard it poured over the hills and dribbled on the dry grass. It even snowed in the Sierras once, but it was one of those rare summer snows, a dusting that knew it didnt belong and disappeared with the first light of day. Tomorrow this all will change. Tomorrow a blast of cold air will blow down straight from the Aleutians. It will abut its cold, heavy, moist front into the last of summer and, in pushing it out of the way, will lift this ligher air high into the sky, and crack it open, bringing that dusty, life-giving rain that is only felt in the first real storm. Tomorrow the clouds will roll in off the hills, and by noon the ground will be speckled with drops of rain. By afternoon the trees will be dripping and the thirsty hills will begin soaking up the moisture seeping through the grass. Perhaps after sunset a few flashes of lightning will finalize the change. Upon morning, a foot of new snow will grace the high peaks, some of which will not melt into the creeks until spring. The storm will linger a few days, pushing into the mountains and squeezing out more snow on the peaks. But by then it will already be autumn, and it will just be the beginning of another 6 months of life-giving rains. It is the first drops that really mean something

Still, tonight it is cold and clear. The clouds havent reached the valley yet, but the stars are flickering, and the air is cool. Tonight the air clings to summer but tomorrow the air will let go. It is time. Too long without change tries everything with enough will to grow. Too many months of rain wash away the soil.. too many months of dry sap the oaks of their green. The night is already late.. my girlfriend is in bed already, sleeping peacefully, and as soon as i cease my philosophical ramblings i will join her there. Hopefully we will wake up to the soft shushing of cars moving across wet pavement. The trees will drip with rain and soon the hills will be green again. I, for one, will welcome the change


Almost a year has passed since i wrote this node, meaning I've been here at least that long. The year has come full cycle and the first rain of the next fall has come today, September 24th. It is two weeks earlier than last year and it shows - this storm still has a bit of summer's energy in it, and it has been sporadically flicking bolts of lightning across the sky. The air is a bit warmer too.. but the change is just as definite. It may be warm in these next few weeks, before the rains really kick in. But it will be different, and it will show.

2002 This year, the planets tilting found me 400 miles south. Everything is tilted, all my friends have scattered, and I am alone again. Alone except for the rain. Nonwithstanding sprinkles, or dying hurricanes, the first significant rain did not arrive until November. But arrive it did, and with a vengeance, dropping half as much rain in one storm as Southern California got the whole last rainy season. The drought was finally over. As of the winter solstice, the winter has continued to be rainy. The hills are turning green again.

An annual tradition at Porter College, UC Santa Cruz. The first night-time rain that graces Santa Cruz after the beginning of the school year will bring a huge group of free spirits out of their dorm rooms and out of their clothes into the falling water. After running around the quad for a while, calling to the spectators "Join us!", the naked group will embark on a jogging parade through campus, visiting every dorm in the university. By the time it returns to Porter, the group has doubled in size from all the nudist recruits it picked up along the way.

You wish you could see pictures, don't you? Your wish is my command:

I appear in a number of the pics, notably bare-bottomed in number 13 with hands raised to receive the falling rain gems.

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