Posted by: Sleepbot ZZ 0.94 | 2009/02/05

i miss the yearly Rain God Tryouts in Seattle

California has been going through a drought this winter. the weather’s been awesome, but there’s been little if any rain. not that i’m immediately affected by the drought, thanks to the fine water utility in San Francisco, but i hear it ain’t good

last night we had ourselves a little storm. it makes for a great sleep environment. but i wake up this morning and it’s sunny. now it’s getting overcast again, and i’m reminded of two of the most awesome things that i miss about the climate in Seattle

i lived there for 8 years. and, yes it rains a lot. but once you’ve lived there a while, you realize that it’s not the rain that’s an issue, it’s the constant cloud-cover. it took me years of living down here in the Bay Area before i didn’t feel some sort of urgent pull — a panic even — whenever there was a day of solid sunshine. the pull to get out there and take in the sun you don’t know when you’ll see it again that gets engrained into folks who’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest

but that climate gives you a couple of unique and beautiful things:

The Convergence Zone

nestled in between the Olympic and Cascasde mountain ranges, the winds whip through Seattle in a pretty directional way. usually north-to-south, if my memory serves

several days a year, you would be downtown and perchance look up into the sky. and there, with a shudder of astonishing beauty, you would take in a living, breathing palette of moving brushwork

up at the Cumulus level, there would be fast moving short streaks of clouds, thin and puffy. they’d streak by like vaprous cotton streamers. up in the Stratus region there would be their much larger cousins, puffy clumps that were holding together but still racing across the sky, pulled along, stretched out, and coaxing along its trailing wisps like a mother duck does her ducklings. all of this was formed through the rapid channel of the Convergence Zone

and up in the Altostratus and Nimbostratus there’d be two additional layers, the large impenetrable stormcloud variety lay far above, like a heavy grey fleece over the city, and below that a similar yet lighter and more fragmented variety of the same

the overall effect was breathtaking. four layers of organic motion

whereas in San Francisco, it’s fog and / or a cloud layer. the closest equivalent is the breakup of the heavy fog over Twin Peaks, or the odd cloud tubes that only seem to come in over the Golden Gate and dissipate into the Marina

The Rain God Tryouts

Generally one day a year, or maybe two, the Rain Gods would gather together over the Emerald City to duke it out for yearly supremacy. the torrentials, the sputterers, the light-drifters, the slow-and-heavy pelters. all the glitterati of the precipitation industry

one by one, our candidates would approach the stage and perform for between 15 and 30 minutes. then, the rain (of whatever variety) would stop for about an hour. often the sun would come out, a celebration of the auspicious competition that we were all so lucky to witness. then the skies would grow heavy again and it was one to the next. or maybe not — many an audition that day takes place under significant sunlight

usually there were a good five or six Gods vying for the job, clearly having won their regional championships in Southern India, Scandanavia or the Amazon Basin. and it wasn’t readily apparent to the audience who the victor was, but it was guaranteed that at several points in the day, you would feel some sort of delight at the show. “wow, that was quick and intense!” “jeez, how did She make it mist and hail at the same time?” such a magical show to behold

whereas in San Francisco, it rains. and people forget how to drive

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