Friday, July 8, 2011

Life in the rain

Want to see the world and its tone change quickly?  Keep your eyes open as a strong summer storm comes along. Alternatively, photograph or memorize the look and feel of things around you on a bright, sunny day with no clouds in the sky and compare that to what you have on the 2nd or 3rd rainy day in a row.

Yesterday was classic.  It was the perfect example of the change from all bright and cheery to a total deluge of water tearing down from the sky in a complete stream. We had just decided to leave the open-air cafe and go to our cars.  As I reached for the door handle, there were a few large raindrop marks on the pavement.  By the moment later when I was seated in the driver's seat, everything was being drenched, re-drenched and double-drenched.  

I have been in a plane above the clouds where it was sunny while it was raining below.  So, when I find the gray skies and less intense light of a rainy day are depressing me, I imagine the sun shining brightly above the rainclouds.  That can help my mood a bit.  Still, I am often surprised at how much rain seems to affect everyone's mood.  I don't think I am just imagining it.  I think there is less traffic, what there is moves a little slower, of course.  People don't usually stroll calmly along.  They either stay inside or move quickly from shelter to shelter.  So, the social atmosphere changes.

I got the impression that Maryland and central Wisconsin differ in the number of sunny days each gets but these government figures don't support that idea.  In both places, the percentage of possible sunshine that it actually experienced is a little more than 50%.  So, that means that the chances are roughly equal that any given day will be cloudy or not.

But I ask myself, 'What's so great about the sun?"  I definitely don't want to get sunburn, I can often see better in milder light.  The sun creates very dark shadows and they impede seeing.  Despite having northern European ancestors who ought to be used to clouds, I do seem to be immediately affected by a sunny day or the lack of one.

I wonder if some places experience longer periods of the same weather.  That 2nd or 3rd or 4th day of clouds seems longer and grayer and more depressing than the first one.  So maybe several cloudy days interspersed with sun are less affecting than a single unbroken period of gray.  I notice that places where the night is long, near the poles of the earth, are mentioned as being emotionally affecting, even if the total amount of daylight is about the same as near the equator.  So, the frequency of change may matter as much as the total of a type of weather.

I have never experienced a real rainy season in a genuine monsoon area but I would probably not enjoy it.  The truly intense rain that I experienced while driving with the windshield wipers at top speed and the heater warming the glass at first makes people laugh.  Things were so calm and hospitable five minutes before.  But that intensity is not really manageable.  I would want a break from it pretty quick.

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