Wednesday, October 14, 2009

First rain

It's the first rain of the season. As always the local news have been touting this as a late-breaking news story - "Storm watch!" they all proclaim, with great urgency.

It's raining in Los Angeles.

Here in Topanga its as if we are in a cloud - surrounded by mist. It started raining yesterday morning, but it really started coming down on my evening commute, and has been raining steadily ever since.

Our house has a flat roof, and when it rains you can hear the drops falling right above your head. When we first moved here, the sound of rain right above our heads was a little disconcerting. Our previous house in Seattle had a proper peaked roof - there was all that attic, plus the dry-walled ceiling in between us and the elements. But in this house, the roof is thin. There's one place in our kitchen where an old range hood used to be - the hole is still there, about six inches square. There's a vent cover up above, so the rain only comes in if the wind is fierce. But when you look at that hole, you realize that the layer of roof that separates our warm home from the open sky is just a couple of inches thick - some tongue-and-groove lumber, a layer of sheathing, and some tar paper.

It's a odd, yet comforting feeling, being warm and dry and separated from the cold and wet by what seems to be so unsubstantial a covering. But this house, with its supple post-and-beam design has ridden through a couple of earthquakes successfully, so I trust it.

It's not just the rain you can hear on the roof - we often lie in bed in the morning and listen to the scampering feet of squirrels. Or every once in a while, we'll hear a sharp knock overhead - acorns falling off the oak branches that arch over our house.

All in all, life in this house is a sonic experience. There is a giant bird-of-paradise plant growing in the planter box below my bathroom window, its huge leaves brushing the window screen and shading the lower entrance to the laundry room like a green awning. When it rains, the drops hit the leaves and sound like rain drumming on a car fender.

The scrub oaks that grow in the creekbed beside the house are home to birds - mostly finches and mourning doves, but often you can hear the low call of an owl from the darkness. And yesterday evening, we heard the high keen of a red-tailed hawk soaring overhead.

Our house juts out from the hillside, and our living room and kitchen overlook the yard through floor-to-ceiling windows. All that glass, and the thin substance of the remaining walls and ceiling make it feel like we're living inside a lantern, shining against the darkness.

Jack doesn't mind the rain. He's wearing his own umbrella.


cactus petunia said...

That first picture of the raindrops is beautiful. I love the sound of the rain when I'm warm and dry inside. It's a good thing, because living in Portland, we get lots of opportunities to hear rain on the roof!

Oh, and when it's raining sure I wish I had two chihuahuas instead of labs!

AmyMusings said...

Well, doesn't that read as soothingly as a long, steady rain! I was surprised to find out that our Ohio home didn't have any insulation in the walls, after spending so many winters in Upstate New York. Do they even sell insulation at Home Depots in LA??

KBeau said...

Wish I could send some of our rain your way. We've been feeling like we're living in Seattle with all the rain we've gotten.

Kate said...

Yeah for rain! Yeah for Jack! What a cute dog; umbrella and all.

Someone's Mom said...

It actually sounds lovely. Here in tornado alley, the thought of a thin roof is frightening. We've had way too much rain lately. I'd love a little October sunshine.


kcinnova said...

I think blogger just ate my comment!

I love the rain, despite having grown up in the Seattle area with more than enough of it.
Your description of the symphony of outdoor sounds was beautiful. Today our weather is cool and rainy, and the air outside smells absolutely marvelous!
I think I would never bore of the sights and sounds that you enjoy from your home (although my dream is to live in the WA mountains in an A-frame chalet with a metal roof -- flat roofs scare me)!

kcinnova said...

PS: Jack's umbrella made me LOL!
Poor Jack!