California Song

“Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams, Telling myself it’s not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.” – Led Zeppelin, Going to California


It had not rained for years, or so it seemed.  But when it finally did begin to rain it came hard and fast with squalls running from sea to land like horses across dry prairie, their hooves kicking up torrents of mist that hung in the distance like dust.  The drought in California this winter has been historic so any moisture is appreciated, but a full-on storm is like the arrival of the cavalry – we can do without the gunfire (like mudslides and flash floods) though we really need the water.  Excited by the change in the weather, I rode down to the sea during a break in the storm to watch the waves roll in.

Standing beside the breakwater the waves towered overhead, piling up on the ebb of the receding tide as the forces of moon and storm fought for dominion.  With a roar unheard over the foamy din, the surge broke free and ran across the tidal flat sending me running with my bike just ahead of the sea.  If only momentarily, the storm had won (and so had I as I still had dry feet).  However, on the horizon the next squall was gathering.  I turned inland and pedaled furiously on the bow wave of the coming storm like a dolphin toying with a boat, the sweet perfume of rain close behind.

At first I though I had outrun the squall, but my path eventually zigged when it should’ve zagged.  Isn’t that always the case?  Our roads may seem to move forward but they also follow in our footsteps, stalking us.  We are slaves to our paths and we pace them like leopards in a zoo, dreaming of the world beyond the cages we build but cannot escape.  Ordinarily the straight and narrow doesn’t agree with me but as the squall approached I yearned for the clarity of its path.

Across the valley the sun shone a mottled calico on the golden California hills, its tail curling into the distance with feline grace.  One storm does not a drought erase and the sun was already at work repatriating the tears it had shed.  Meanwhile, the cloud tops reached skyward in billowy evidence of the grand hydraulic cycle and marched onward toward the mountains in the east.

Over on my side of the valley I pedaled headlong into the cold rain of the squall, letting it wash over me in waves.  The rain warmed as it ran slowly down my face accompanied by the hiss of tires on wet pavement.  I like riding in the rain.


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