Cold Monday Morning Rain

It’s Monday, at about 5 a.m.  Outside, the rain is pelting down.  It’s a cold rain, driven by a cold wind.  The streets are slick with now-saturated leaves waiting to be picked up.  The dogs don’t want to be outside, and I can’t say that I blame them.  They keep stopping dead in their tracks and looking at me stubbornly, or pulling the leash hard for home — but their work must first be done.

When we finally get back home my pant legs are soaked, and I am treated to the sharp odor of wet dog as I towel them off and hope to avoid the spray of debris across the kitchen floor when they shake off the remaining water.

It’s not the best way to start the work week.

Let The Rain Come!

We promise we won’t run and hide our heads.  Instead, we’ll go outside, dancing, and lift our faces to the heavens and feel the raindrops on our upturned faces, grateful that our brown and thirsty lawns and flowerbeds have received some life-sustaining moisture.

Alas, although the skies have been threatening and we have heard the roll of distant thunder for most of the afternoon, not a drop has fallen.  In the meantime, entire yards have shriveled into brittle carpets of burnt sienna wire, and flowers wither in their flowerpots.  Let the rain come!

How Best To Avoid The Raindrops?

For years, physicists and mathematicians have debated a simple question:  when it’s raining and you’re without an umbrella, will you stay drier if you run or walk?

Each position is supported by a logical argument:  if you walk, you’re out in the rain for a longer time, but if you run you hit more raindrops.  Dozens of scientific papers have addressed the issue and discussed factors like wind speed.  Now Professor Franco Bocci has weighed in, arguing that prior efforts have not adequately taken into account factors like the human shape.  He says past calculations have assumed human beings are like thin sheets or upright, rectangular boxes — and you tend not to see many such shapes in today’s super-sized world.  He concludes that, for the most part, the best approach is to run through the rain as fast as you can.

I wonder whether Professor Bocci’s analysis adequately considers the length of the rainy space to be crossed, its condition, and the condition of the person trying to stay as dry as possible.  Not many people wearing business suits are going to successfully sprint 500 yards through a downpour, no matter what mathematical models might say.  And if you’re making a mad dash down a city street trying to avoid a good soaking, you’re far more likely to charge through an undetected puddle or be splashed by a passing car and get even more soaked.  The better course often is to evaluate the topography and availability of awnings and overhangs, and then plot a carefully calibrated zig-zag course that affords maximum cover while not requiring heroic running performances.

Or, better yet, have the foresight to carry an umbrella.

High And Dry

Here in the Midwest, we’re in the enduring a serious heat spell and drought.  We’re not alone; much of America is experiencing significant drought conditions.

The prevailing color of the world around us is brown.  The grass is brown, the parched, cracked, dusty earth is brown, and the dessicated creek beds are brown, too.   When we do get rain, as we did on Sunday, it’s in the form of a violent gully-washer that comes down in torrents, bounces off ground baked rock-hard by 90-degree temperatures and bright sunshine, runs briskly off to the storm sewers, and leaves as quickly as it came.  We’re way overdue for a long, soaking rain; the kind that replenishes the water table, lets the earth become moistened, and returns the blades of grass to some semblance of greenness.

The weather is the weather, but when familiar streams begin to run bone dry you start to anxiously scan the cloudless skies, listen carefully to the weather report, and consciously root for rain.  At times like this, I’m glad I’m not a farmer and dependent on the fickle heavens for my livelihood.

Time For Our Memorial Tournament Rain

It’s been hot and dry in Columbus recently — but all that is about to change.

Tomorrow the Memorial Tournament begins at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, a Columbus suburb.  It’s a terrific tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus on a fabulous golf course.  As any Columbus resident also knows, however, it also means we are guaranteed to have rain.

It’s pretty amazing, really.  It’s rained so frequently for the Memorial that the New York Times has written about the weird coincidence — not once, but twice.  They’ve moved the date of the tournament, and the rain followed the Memorial to its new place on the calendar.  It’s rained so often that some people contend that the rain is the curse of Chief Leatherlips (from his name, apparently not a ladies’ man) because the course purportedly was built on a sacred Wyandot burial ground.

Whatever the reason, it’s time to spread the grass seed, plant the flowers, batten down the hatches, and prepare for the inevitable downpour.  The Memorial Tournament is here!

A Car Wash Day

It’s a beautiful day today in New Albany.

The sun is shining, the temperature is in the high 70s, and the sounds of lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and trimmers fill the sultry air.  My neighbors are hard at work, and I should be, too.

It’s a perfect day to wash your car — so I did.  Time to get out the bucket and fill it with soapy water, find the Windex, and haul the old diapers out of the rag pile.  (Nothing works on a car like old cloth diapers.)

Unfortunately, as I was mid-wash I realized that my only functioning hose is much too short to rinse down the car after the washing.  So, I cleaned out the inside, scrubbed the dead bugs and road grit off the front bumper and headlights, then stopped by our neighborhood car wash for the finishing touches and a much needed vacuum treatment for the flooring.

My car is now as clean as a whistle, which means only one thing — rain tomorrow.

Impossibly Green

In New Albany, we’ve had our April showers, and then some.  The constant rain has been depressing, but it has worked its amazing magic.

The landscape has been transformed from dull, unrelenting, washed-out greyness to an impossibly lush expanse featuring every imaginable shade of green.  The grass in our yard is a deep, fathomless emerald color, like the dense, verdant, waving stands of kelp found at the bottom of the ocean or a wet spot on the felt top of a billiards table.  In the heavily refracted light of the early evening, the lawn looks thick and rich and irresistibly inviting, the perfect place to sink your tired feet, or to lay down, facing skyward, and let the cool blades caress the back of your neck and tickle your ears.

Flood Stage

It has been raining, raining, and raining across Ohio.  In Columbus, it has been raining heavily, and virtually non-stop, for more than a day.

Counties across Ohio are under flood watches and flood warnings.  With the constant rain, the snow melt, and the saturated ground, excess water is pouring into creeks and rivers.  With amazing suddenness, the lazy, picturesque stream that you drive past on your way to work becomes a raging torrent that spills out from its bed.  The widening rivers then spread across the nearby landscape, covering the area with sluggish, slow-moving brown water, and when the waters recede they leave everything thickly coated with smelly brown muck.  The flooding risks are particularly acute for those to the north who live near Lake Erie, where all moving water flows to the Great Lakes basin, and those to the south who live along the many rivers that drain into the Ohio River.  As more and more water flows in, from rain and smaller tributaries, rivers can rise with startling speed, trapping those who are reckless or unwary.

If you want to live by a river in Ohio, you have to be prepared.  Flooding is just part of life during the early spring, although some years are worse than others.


The Man Who Put The Beat In The Beatles

Today is Ringo Starr’s 70th birthday.  He is celebrating with a private event at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City, followed by a concert at Radio City Music Hall.

I always thought Ringo Starr was a vastly underrated rock drummer.  Because he was a character who became known for his “Ringoisms”  — like “a hard day’s night” — I think many people considered him to be less important musically than other members of the Beatles.  When Lorne Michaels offered some ludicrously small amount for the Beatles to reunite and play on Saturday Night Live, he specifically said that the other band members could give Ringo a lesser cut if they wanted to.  It was supposed to be funny, but it was a cruel joke.

Sure, Ringo didn’t write many songs or have many singing hits when he was with the Beatles.  (Ironically, for a few years after the Beatles split up, Ringo had the most post-Beatles hits of any ex-member of the band, with songs like It Don’t Come Easy and Photograph.)  Nevertheless, he was the man who put the beat in the Beatles.  He had rock ‘n roll in his soul and never let showmanship get in the way of keeping the beat.  Listen to the ferocious drumming on, say, Twist and Shout and you will know what I mean.  Anyone who likes to dance to the early Beatles tunes — songs like Dizzy Miss Lizzie or I Saw Her Standing There — should tip his cap to Ringo Starr because his excellent drumming made those songs easy to dance to.  Even on his one drum solo — at the end of side two of Abbey Road — Ringo seemed to focus mostly on the beat, and not on technical flourishes or showoff riffs that detracted from the rhythm.  Yet within that guiding framework, Ringo also was capable of inventiveness.  Rain and Come Together are two pretty good examples of that fact.

I think it is safe to say that the Beatles without Ringo would not have been the Beatles.  Happy Birthday, Ringo!  Let’s celebrate with this video of Rain: