dimanche, octobre 16, 2005

weather like the hearts of men

raincloud It's raining right now.
I was raised in Southern California and adore rain. I also enjoy taking photographs when it rains — everything is clean and has a bit of a sheen to it; others are taking cover from the raindrops; and there are puddles galore in which to find reflections and unusual perspectives.

I met someone yesterday who has the sun tattooed on his back. When I asked why, he explained that he got it shortly after moving to California, because there's so much sunshine here. (He's from Canada, where evidently, the sun shines much less often and presumably, much less brightly.)
Clouds Part, and Joy Breaks Out All Over Town
Something strange happened in New York City yesterday. The sun came out.

Certainly, the central star of the solar system had not entirely forsaken the other center of the universe during a record-breaking week of rain, but evidence of its presence amid the downpours was circumstantial at best. The storm that had soaked the city and the region for eight days in a row rested, blessedly, on the ninth day. And sometime about 11 a.m. yesterday - first reported sightings varied - the sun was shining bright and warm in a rainless sky.

"There are blue skies!" yelled Alan Salmen, leather-jacketed arms outstretched, as he stood with his wife, Lisa, on a patch of Eighth Avenue pavement along a street fair in Midtown. "I was starting to wonder."

Mr. Salmen, who does asbestos and lead removal in California, spent the week as soggy and drenched as millions of other tourists and New Yorkers. There he was in his hotel room at night, using the blow dryer on his sneakers. There he was on Friday with his wife on a nice romantic stroll in the rain forest otherwise known as Central Park. But yesterday afternoon, in sunglasses and dry footwear, he soaked in the rays. "You take what Mother Nature gives you," he said.

The New York region had been given, without asking, eight days of continued rain beginning Oct. 7. In a city of New York minutes, eight days feels like an eternity. It rained when people went to bed at night, and it rained when people woke up in the morning. It rained on Washington Heights, and it rained on Crown Heights, and it rained on Jackson Heights, too. The National Weather Service recorded 13.25 inches of rain in Central Park this month, making it, so far, the second-wettest October. In the only October on record with more rain, the Boston Pilgrims beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first World Series. The year was 1903.

In the sunshine yesterday, the yin-and-yang of the city was on display, at once dry and wet. People headed outdoors, trailing their dogs and children, stepping over leftover puddles and mushy clumps of maple leaves, trying to remember when they last did such a simple thing as stand outside without aid of umbrella, awning or hood. Children complained about being cooped up for days. Grown-ups grumbled about expanding waistlines from extended periods of TV watching and ice cream eating. Everyone preferred to talk about how miserable it had been in the rain. They let the sunshine speak for itself.

"It feels very good," said Banroy Brown, 24, a construction worker lounging in partly dry Prospect Park in Brooklyn. "You know what I mean?"

In parts of New Jersey that suffered severe flooding in the storm, officials and residents took advantage of the clear skies to assess the damage. "It feels good to be out," said Gail Lino, 45, as she stood outside her husband's flooded home in the unfortunately named Pleasureland section of Oakland, where evacuated residents returned for the first time yesterday. "Once the water goes down, there will be a lot of work to do. I'm not looking forward it."

Even in a big, bad city like New York, people like their sunshine. The view is not as splendid from behind rain-streaked windows. Everywhere yesterday, there were scenes of a town finally aglow. A young man in a ponytail trimmed white lilies at a flower stand in a place too sunny to be called Hell's Kitchen. Couples kissed in Central Park as the notes from a man's saxophone blended with the wail of a police siren, creating a jazz all its own. In crowded Columbus Circle, the explorer stared unblinking into the heart of the sun, the only precipitation from the spray of the fountains.

"It feels like summer today," said Greta Post, 8, who came to the circle with her father and brother and provided as concise a weather report as any. "It was raining all this week, and it's finally sunny again."

But it wasn't quite summertime in October. A chilly wind blew in from the northwest, and people draped sweaters and coats around their waists and shoulders, carrying rolled-up umbrellas, just in case.

Angelo Colon, a mailman, hung his umbrella between the pouches of mail on his cart as he made his rounds on West 46th Street.

Skepticism ran rampant. Some did not even believe it had rained so much, though the proof was in the evaporating puddles. "This is all a myth," said Kenny Savelson, 39, a musician from Fort Greene, Brooklyn, who had returned home on Friday night from a two-week tour overseas. "It was really raining all the time?"

Others feared the rains would return at any moment. "The weather is like the hearts of men," said D. Washington, 34, as he strolled on a street in Upper Manhattan. "I don't trust it. It's subject to change."

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