Thursday, February 16, 2006

Raining on your parade

I know we need the rain. Really I do. I just don’t need it right now, though. The walk between my office and the train station was simply dreadful today. God is spitting down buckets of the wet stuff, and I cling to my umbrella for dear life while navigating sidewalks that were clearly not created with any serious thought for inclement weather, pedestrians, etc. The water on the sidewalk has a slight element of depth to it, and the angles, dips and irregularities allow for fast-moving streams and currents. It feels like the sluice gates of a mighty dam have been opened, and I discover for the second time in two days, much to my dismay, that my beloved, uber-comfortable black flats are not waterproof (note to self – get waterproof shoes), and my toes are snugly engulfed by a mushy, cold black mass that used to pass for socks. Thank God for my long, black winter coat, which Husband laughed at me for purchasing several years ago in London, telling me at the time that I would never use it. Let me tell you, it is one practical item of clothing, and I can’t imagine getting through the winter without it. Likewise for my new umbrella (second one of the season), which seems to be as strong as promised so far.

The rain has a funny effect on Israelis. Every year when winter rolls around (as it inevitably does, given the nature of time, seasons passing, etc.), we are hit with a form of collective amnesia and act as though it’s the first winter we’ve ever seen. It’s quite astounding, really. We forget how to drive in the rain, tending to use surrounding cars and other obstacles to stop in a manner not unlike the way we used to use the wall to stop at the roller or ice skating rink (think “slam! ooof!”). We are amazed when we hear about the old streets and housing being flooded in certain neighborhoods of Tel Aviv, despite the fact that these same streets and homes flood every year when it rains; you could set your watch by the predictability of it all. Every year we have these floods. Every year we see the poor homeowners on the news. Every year we hear the officials promising to do something about it. Anyone noticing a pattern here?

Of course, the flip side of all this amnesia is that we are all absurdly happy when the first rains of the season hit. Following the rise of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) becomes the national pastime, with each additional centimeter being cause for celebration. We also flock in great hoards to all natural water sources in order to watch the torrent of waters rushing by. When driving around the Northern part of the country on any given Saturday during the winter months (as long as there has been some rain), it is quite easy to locate these rushing water spots, for all you have to do is watch for the places that are absolutely packed with cars parked haphazardly, either just off the roadside or all along the shoulder. If you hit one of these, rest assured, you’ve found the water.

Aaah, yes. Winter in Israel is such a happy time. Rainy, cold and windy one day, sunny and warm the next. The Israelis going water and wildflower crazy, and reaching one’s destination successfully is often a hit or miss situation, as already bad driving takes on mammoth proportions, assisted by poorly designed roads and potholes that mysteriously come out to play, adding a touch of excitement to every ride in the car. And those of us with a penchant towards pedestrianism get to have even more fun, dodging the waters spilling onto the sidewalks from building gutters while simultaneously trying to avoid being the victim of a drive-by drowning as cars splash by. Can you feel my joy? Can you? But alas, we really do need the rain. One of the few issues on which all Israelis can actually agree, so who am I to be the drippy one, the wet noodle? Who am I to rain on anyone's parade?

Here come those clouds again...


Nicole said...

you just need to get up later! When I went to work today, it was beautiful and sunny (I probably only got out of bed after you had already arrived at the office...)

Liza said...

Actually, I began writing the post the afternoon before, while heading home on the train. It started coming together in my head during the walk (as many of my posts do), and once I got on the train and opened the computer, the words just started to flow (not unlike the water on the sidewalks). You are right though. When I walked to work the next morning, it was beautiful and sunny.

And, I definitely need to get up later. Please suggest to my son that he do the same... ;-)