Wednesday, July 11, 2007

hail and rain and memories of a tin roof

The hail just started pouring down, and I can hear it hitting the leaves the of the tree outside my bedroom and bouncing off the ground. Large white chunks of ice the size of corn kernels have pelted our balcony, and I am once again amazed by mountain weather. Somehow the presence of slabs of concrete jutting out of the plains causes thunderstorms, which occasionally bring hail with them. I won't even pretend to understand it, though I'm sure there's an elegant piece of physics explaining it. In particular, I'm sure my father explained it to me in extreme detail when I was a child. Sadly I don't recall. But it is particularly odd that it is hot enough outside to wear shorts and a t-shirt, yet there are chunks of ice falling out of the sky.

But the hail has given way to rain, which still collides with the ground to create a loud noise, but seems gentler in comparison. And less painful to the passers-by on the street outside my apartment.

The sound of rain reminds me of the rainstorms we had during the wet season in Costa Rica. Every afternoon you had to prepare yourself for being completely drenched. It was too early in the afternoon to plan on getting back inside, so we learned to appreciate how alive and green the rain made the forest. Of course, I was never there when the La Selva river flooded the field station, so can't really complain. But I do recall one afternoon when I tried to give a lecture during a rainstorm. The classroom was an open buliding (ie no walls) with a tin roof. At first the drizzle was kind of charming. As I tried to use the blackboard to make my point (no overhead projector so my prepared slides were useless), the rain started to get stronger (became kind of amusing) and stronger (I started to shout my lecture) and stronger (I completely gave up). By the time I called an end to the lecture - and couldn't shout loud enough to let everyone in the building know I'd given up - it sounded like the entire percussion section of an orchestra had decided to bang on our ceiling. When you sit under a tin roof in a rainstorm, you really realize how much energy there is in a storm - almost more dramatic than wind damage.

But, in true mountain weather form, the storm has stopped - not quite enough to cool the air down, just enough rain to produce that heady humid smell of a passing storm...

No comments: