The thunder and lightning are unexpected. So is the hail, which falls in some parts of LA, though not in my neighborhood. The rain follows, hard, driving, as intense as the city itself. The sidewalks and streets are quickly flooded. The water heads frantically for the sewers, bubbling and churning and hurrying to its underground destination. I step into my car through racing water that tops my shoes. I am wet through but my car is clean, all the city dust and dirt, the husks of plant life, the pollution of a million internal-combustion engines washed away in a twinkling.
If I’m lucky enough to be at home, the rain is comforting. I hear it when I go to sleep at night and when I wake up in the morning. It drips and sighs and splashes, and then it gets to work, cleansing and nourishing the city – a big job – sometimes for days, sometimes for hours, with an occasional burst of sun in the afternoon.
It is surprisingly cold during the early morning hours. Desert cold. I like it. I turn on the heater until the chill goes away, and after that, if there is sun, it might be as warm as a summer day in the Midwest. Or it might continue overcast and chilly, preparing for the next downpour.
The rain blesses LA for about four months a year, on and off, November through February. Then – am I ready for this? – 245 sunny days. No raging spring and soft summer rains. No windy, blowy September storms, pulling the red and yellow leaves off the trees and sending them tumbling to the ground. Just desert heat and glare until the sun “goes to its home beneath the sky.” Every day for eight months.
For now, I’m enjoying the rain; that is, when it doesn’t portend floods, mudslides, and evacuation. Rain in LA seems to be like much else here: intense, dramatic – and stimulating.