Thursday, October 7, 2010

Voices on the wind

If the gentle October weather we have been experiencing the last few days is a soft voice whispering in my ear, urging me to get out on the bike, well it has been working.  This is what I got on my commute home this week:




That thin October light is like lemonade compared to the Orange Julius of August’s bright rich glow.  In the direct light you are warm, cool in the shade.  The low angle of the sun means you need a visor or something to help you see into the bright light.
(yes, riding my bike WITHOUT A HELMET - OH EM GEE!!)

 and seeing into the dark shadows is nearly impossible. 
The stark contrast, in temperature and light is pleasant, and the complete absence of that howling onshore wind through the Chehalis gap is also a welcome relief.  Shoot, coming around the tree farm
I thought I had a TAILWIND!  I was not sure, but when I looked down at the cyclo-computer and saw 19mph, well there really wasn’t any doubt. 
I’m loving this.  All the more so knowing that this beautiful, sensuous lover will soon be departing, slipping away in the night only to leave me in the cold clutches of that raw heartless debt collector that is November.  It would be just fine with me if we could have this version of October weather for about eight months a year.  The other four months could be divvied up between spring and summer and, well, maybe a week or two of winter just to make us appreciate the better parts.
But behind that sonorous whisper there lurks, barely audible, a discordant din that’s growing louder.  Loud enough now that only a fool or someone obsessed with Dancing With The Stars, or whatever other pop culture faff and prattle is out there could miss it. I bury my head under the pillows but it does not work to muffle the sound. You’ve heard me rail and rant about El Nino in the past, and I think most people whether directly affected or not, are at least aware of this episodic Pacific Ocean weather pattern even if they don’t know the details.  Well the 'anti-El Nino' is La Nina, El Nino’s petulant little sister.  Try as I might to bury my head under the pillow of self delusion, I cannot avoid coming face to face with the fact that those who know are predicting a serious re-visitation from La Nina this winter.  What does it mean for us?
Basically our little piece of the earth can expect colder and wetter this winter.  Knowing this causes me to try to determine the confidence levels attached to the long term forecast.  Even as I type this, I cannot contain an involuntary guffaw!:  “confidence levels”  and “long term weather forecast”, go together like broken glass and bicycle tires.  Still, listening to what the ‘experts’ say is probably a more sensible approach than adding a second pillow to muffle the sound.
I am torn between pessimism and optimism.  Optimistically speaking there is a tendency for news media to try to make a hurricane out of a rainstorm, ‘snowmeageddon’ out of a couple days of 4 to 6 inches of the white stuff.  My weather worn psyche wants to dismiss it as bored people trying to sell copy.    
Then the lurking pessimist leaps to the fore with a howl and an I told you so! screech.  I am instantly reminded of December, 2007.  That’s been some time ago but images of our little house, soaked up to it's butt in river mud are seared into my brain like a cattle brand on the inside of my eyelids. 

(Chairman Meow too!)

Look at this graphic and notice that the PNW gets its own little overlay of “WET”. 

It makes me a little nervous, a little cranky, (GET OFF MY LAWN LITTLE GIRL!), the ‘why me’ bile churns and rises.  I cannot help furtive glances around the house thinking what is it that we have on the floor that needs to 'go up'?  (I lost some valuable-to-me art in the flood of 07 because it was on the floor, leaning up against the wall, Mrs C’s’ computer, some stereo equipment, etc.)  For us, this is clearly about more than just laying in a stock of candles, water jugs, and Clif Bars. Shoot, what would I do with the fish?
It’s not ALL I am thinking of at this point; right now there is not a lot to do and I refuse to live shuddering in the shadows of ‘what if?”  However, just to make sure that this little run of perfect weather does not lull me into some sense of false security, I got this little 'love note' from my friends at the NWS today:

HYDROLOGY...MODELS CONTINUE TO SHOW SIGNIFICANT RAINFALL OVER THE SOUTH SLOPES OF THE OLYMPICS...COAST AND TO A LESSER EXTENT THE NORTHERN CASCADES FRIDAY NIGHT THROUGH SUNDAY MORNING. STRONG SOUTHWESTERLY FLOW ALOFT...MODEL 850 MB WINDS ONCE AGAIN NEAR 50 KNOTS...WILL ENHANCE THE PRECIPITATION OVER THE SOUTH SLOPES OF THE OLYMPICS. AS WAS THE CASE YESTERDAY MORNING... QPF VALUES IN THE 4 TO 8 INCH RANGE FROM FRIDAY EVENING THROUGH SUNDAY MORNING ARE FORECASTED FOR THE SOUTH SLOPES OF THE OLYMPICS. IF THIS WAS A MIDDLE OF THE SEASON EVENT CONFIDENCE WOULD BE RUNNING HIGH THAT THE SKOKOMISH WOULD FLOOD. BECAUSE THIS IS THE FIRST SIGNIFICANT RAINFALL OF THE SEASON AND THE RIVER IS RUNNING LOW CONFIDENCE A LITTLE LESS.
 Shoot this forecast begins TOMORROW FREAKING NIGHT!!  Four to eight inches of rain does not go unnoticed.  This is not ‘intermittent showers’, or ‘partial rain’, or ‘rain turning to showers’.  Goofy as these euphemisms for rain may sound to you desert dwellers, they actually have meaning to those of us in rain country and can be useful in determining which of our array of raincoats is appropriate to bring along on the ride.  Friends had been discussing the possibility of a 200K perm on Saturday; obviously that planning wasn't based on the weather forecast.

I am thankful for the gifts we’ve been given in the early part of this month, I just wish there was some way we could s t r e e e t c h this out a little longer.  Maybe this weekend will be dedicated to ‘Bakingpalooza’ and setting up the ‘spin studio’ once again.  (maybe I’ll do a little contingency planning about those fish, I’d hate to see them go down the river!)
PS:  on the ride home, I was again attracted to the array of barns, new and old along the route. 


I’m so happy that barns are a regular occurrence on my commute as opposed to metro stations, round abouts and fast food joints.

3 comments:

  1. Love those barns. Can't get enough, especially as someone who regularly puts up with industrial zone cycling, fast food joints and fumes.

    And thanks for the tip about the rain this weekend. Got several of our heads paying attention again. Let me know if you need help sandbagging the pond perimeter!

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  2. I just stumbled upon your blog. I live in that really big wet area on the map, north Queensland, Australia. Yes It will flood this year. My fish seem really good at staying in the bottom of the pond, I expect yours will do the same. I am an ex-maritimer. I have to assume Dr Codfish has an Atlantic connection. Love your work.

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  3. Dee:

    Thanks for the kind words. When we flooded in 2007, We had about 10 'K-Mart Koi' (aka dimestore goldfish). when the water receeded they were all gone downstream. If I see a flood on the horizon in the fututre, I'll set up my show tank out in the shop and hold the fish there till the water recedes. What we got last time was pretty toxic I think and likely would be hard for the fish to survive, think petro-slick on the surfasce,. I'd hate to loose my koi to a flood, whether down the river or doing the back float.

    No Atlantic connection, we have pretty big Ling Cod here.

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