Monday, October 18, 2004


Blame Me?

I rode my mountain bike over the Santa Monica Mountains to have lunch with a friend last Friday. The day was cool, breezy and dry. It has been about 7 months since the last noticeable rainstorm here. The trip home, starting on the hot side of the hill, was different. Ron had mentioned the chance of rain predicted but I didn't believe him until I got back up onto Mulholland and looked around the sky.

High, wispy clouds. Mare's tails. These are precursor clouds announcing a change in weather. Could we really have a storm on the way?

I've always liked rain, but now that I live in a desert my appreciation for it has gone into the mystical. From about mid-July onward, the land dries and shrivels. At the end of August, everything is just waiting for rain. The mountains are hard-bitten in browned, scratchy, stingy shrubs. Dust is everywhere.

I asked God for rain. I asked him to nudge this storm along. I told him I was being purely selfish, but that it would also be good for the land because the last two years have been dry. When I got home I spent some time brushing a lot of dust off of the bicycle.

Saturday night I was having trouble sleeping. I'd doze, wake up, doze. One time when I woke up I heard something, entirely unexpected, almost unbelievable. I put on shorts and walked out to stand in the rain. Lovely, magic water falling like a gift from the sky. My friend Mirjam, in Holland, tells me I'm nuts, but she gets rain all year around. Maybe I'd be blase' also. As it is, I just have to go outside.

Sunday morning. Due to various upsets I have no desire to attend a church anywhere; the last experience burned my tail off and I don't want to repeat it. The clearing-up shower comes through and the sky lightens. Shortly after sunrise I head out on the mountain bike, looking for weather.

It's out there. Beautiful. Huge clouds rise over the beach. Everything is wet, windy, fragrant. The climb into Will Rogers Park is so fragrant it's as if I could gain weight from just smelling it. Rich. Sage, eucalyptus, buckwheat, others. Overhead ragged clouds blow past on a wind that shakes collected rain from the trees onto my bare head.

The dirt road up the hill is untracked. I climb toward the clouds and pick up gravel in my hair and mud on my legs. Bright yellow Cougar is turning brown. Knobby tires pick up lots of dirt.

It's better to be depressed on a mountain bike ride than anywhere else. Just get some physical thrash going and keep at it. A wide splinter of sunlight found a hole in the clouds and flooded Santa Monica. Viewed from up here the city is almost attractive, but the shrubs smell a lot better.

Hunger and my bum left knee drove me home. I hosed the dirt off my legs and the bike and then oiled the latter. I wish I could do the same for my knee.

Perhaps the activity was oil for the mind. Various ideas shook loose. I'd been hiding from God, partially, and when I do that the lights just go out. Life isn't worth living. Mountain biking is no reason to live, but it is a way I use to sort things out.

If it hadn't rained, I wouldn't have been out there. I apologize to all the people who were hurt by this rain, the ones whose roofs weren't finished, those who had fender-benders on the highway. Go ahead, blame me. I needed rain, so I asked for it.

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