It was warm all day today, with occasional rain showers. By the time I got home from work, and Carol and I got out to take a walk, it was ten o’clock. We stepped out on to the front porch. “Let me grab a hat,” said Carol, and went back inside for a moment. “Boy, it got chilly,” I said. “This is the way it should be,” said Carol. I agreed with her. I don’t miss snow, but I do find it disconcerting when it gets too warm in the middle of winter.
The tomato plant that is growing in the container on the little second-floor deck outside our kitchen window has suddenly started to grow like crazy. This summer, it got some kind of leaf wilt, most of the leaves turned light brown, and we thought it was going to die. In September, I trimmed off the dead leaves so it would look more attractive, and hoped that the few remaining green tomatoes on it would eventually turn ripen and turn red.
Through the month of October, the tomato plant just sat there, not doing much. It didn’t get any worse, so I didn’t have the heart to uproot it and throw it in the compost pile; but it didn’t get any better, either. And then when the rains began, the plant suddenly started growing. At first there were a few new green leaves. Now, in the past week or so, it has really started growing again: several entirely new stems have started to grow, and there are even lots of new little yellow flowers. Whatever caused the leaf wilt hasn’t gone away — some of the new little leaves have already started to turn brown — but for the moment the plant is able to grow faster than the wilt can attack it.
A gray day of rain,
a bright day of cool weather:
green shoots on bare earth.
It’s a warm evening. I just got up to stretch my legs, and I walked around the church grounds. There are crickets singing in the rose garden in front of the Main Hall, and I stopped to listen for a minute. I’ve heard hardly any crickets this summer, perhaps because the weather has been too cool. When I got back to my office, I realized that there were crickets singing in the little garden outside my office. It’s a peaceful sound. I opened my door to hear them better.
Carol and I went out for a walk. It was dark and drizzling rain. A few cars whizzed by on the wet pavement, and aside from that it was quiet. Then I heard fireworks somewhere off to our right.”I wonder who’s having fireworks tonight?” I said. Then we heard fireworks in front of us. “Maybe it’s the Giants game,” said Carol. “Of course,” I said, “they must’ve won.” Later, a car full of people drove past us, the windows down in spite of the rain. The people in the car shouted something that sounded like “Wa waba!” A few minutes later another car drove by, an orange and black piece of cloth flapping out a rear window. When we got to downtown San Mateo, we could hear blaring horns and people shouting down along Fourth Avenue.
It rained today; usually not much more than a drizzle or a mist, barely enough to feel on your face, but a few times I could hear the rain pattering on the roof. It didn’t rain all day, nor even the majority of the day, but it felt like a rainy day. The air is humid, and outdoors the smells are more intense: the smell of the pine tree near our house, the smell of the big Dumpster we walked by, the smells coming up out of the storm drains, the smell of some flower we walked by. Everything feels damp, and the bath towels we used this morning still haven’t dried out. This feels like the real beginning to this year’s rainy season.
I just got back from a ministers’ retreat in St. Francis Retreat, San Juan Bautista, California. A Coast Live Oak woodland ecological community predominates on the hillside behind the retreat center, and at this time of year everything is still damp. I saw a salamander on the trail, mushrooms sprouting up around the trunks of the oaks, and tiny wildflowers everywhere there was some sun.
Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia), draped with Fishnet Lichen (Ramalina menziesii), and with unidentified bryophytes on trunk.
The rain stopped, the clouds went away, the plants and trees are incredibly green, and today the sky seemed impossibly blue. Right now that blue sky is beautiful.
Four months from now, after we’ve had nothing but blue sky day after day, after grasses go dormant and turn the hillsides brown, after the leaves of trees fade to dull green, I’ll be longing for the rain to return.
The Anna’s Hummingbird who is nesting next to our main worship space has hatched two babies:
The photo above is far from perfect — the light level is low necessitating a relatively long exposure, and the babies won’t keep still even when I ask them politely. Nevertheless, you should be able to see the bill of one pointing to the left, and the bill of the other one at the right of the nest pointing toward and above the camera; the bills are quite a bit shorter relative to the body than the bill of a mature hummingbird. The baby on the left has its wing spread out over the top of the nest, and you can see the fine white and black pattern of the developing primary feathers.