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  • Jan Flynn

The Perfect Storm, Inside and Out

It’s raining. Still. Again. It’s been raining for days and days. Before that, it was sunny for maybe two days, and before that it rained for more days and days. This has been going on here in Napa Valley, since well before Christmas. And we’re not just talking showers and sprinkles; precipitation has ranged from dismal sky-pissing to firehose-on-the-loose deluges. Vineyards flooding, trees losing their grip and crashing down onto streets and highways, potholes opening into muddy abysses as the waterlogged soil beneath the roadway abandons its traditional location and slithers elsewhere. Sure, other NorCal regions have it worse, like Oroville where a spillway behind the dam recently gave out and caused the evacuation of 200,000 people. And, hey, at least we’re not whining about the drought, right? Still, this is getting old. I’m about to cry me an atmospheric river.

I am usually fond of rain, especially when I don’t have to be out in it. Curling up in my favorite chair in front of the fireplace with a cup of tea and a good book or a fully charged laptop, while outdoors the storm rages? Lovely. Some rainy days here and there cleanse the soul and inspire the imagination. I appreciate the chance to withdraw from the world and cocoon with my dog and my husband and my streaming Netflix.

To a point. We are past that point. I am a native-born Californian, raised in the gently temperate San Francisco Bay Area, so when it comes to weather, I am a spoiled brat. And let’s face it, people don’t live in this state because they like to brave the elements just to get to work or the grocery store: that’s for hardy residents of places like St. Paul or Buffalo. Out here on the Left Coast, we figure the constant threat of earthquakes provides us with plenty in the way of character development. We don’t do inconvenience cheerfully.

In November, the rain was welcome. In December and January, we accepted it with fairly good grace. It’s late February now, and we’re over it. Even the dog has lost her enthusiasm for her walks, plodding glumly along and departing from the shelter of the umbrella just long enough to accomplish her mission. I feel my own motivation eroding like a saturated hillside; the temptation is powerful to do nothing but watch Turner Classics while mindlessly chewing on carbohydrates. Of course, one can only veg out for so long before either becoming morose or running up against life’s demands: the gutters are clogged; the roof is leaking; you’ve exhausted all the possibilities for working from home even one more day; the potato chips are all gone. You have no choice but to pull on your wellies and head out into the mess. So you do, but you’re not happy about it, and you’re less happy when you try to climb into the car and retract your umbrella while closing the door yet despite your best efforts the rain finds its way down the back of your neck.

Having devoted over eight minutes of online research into the topic, I can confidently report that the lethargy and surly mood is not our fault, and science backs up this claim. For one thing, all the dank darkness and lack of sunshine wreaks havoc on our serotonin levels, plunging them low enough to render us into ill-tempered zombies. Ill-tempered, pain-wracked zombies: the decrease in atmospheric pressure that accompanies clouds and rain can send our bodily fluids seeping from our blood vessels into our tissues, creating congestion and pressure on our joints. Ow. No wonder we feel like just sitting there, sourly noting our decreasing will to live. Oh, and another effect of lower serotonin? It makes you want to eat more, especially carbs.

So: rain + gloom + time = fat @$$. Just great. The recommendation is to practice yoga and eat organic veggies, but who feels like doing that? Pass the onion rings. 

Okay, it’s only weather; it can’t last forever. In fact, I have just consulted the most up-to-date weather forecasting technology, aka my iPhone, and it tells me that the rain will continue all through tonight and tomorrow. But after that, it’s all sunshine and lollipops for three whole days, until the next lineup of storms.

I’ll take it. Check back with me on Wednesday: I’ll be in a much better mood. Meanwhile, maybe I’ll try a little yoga. 

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods, and what are you doing to either cope with it or celebrate it? Please leave a comment!

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