Thursday, December 11, 2014

Waiting for the Storm

42 years in San Francisco and I’ve never seen anything like it. A prediction for a storm so dire that schools—including mine— called for pre-emptive closure. I do remember raging storms with floods and mudslides, but nothing predicted in advance like this. And so with a little euphoria in the air from old East Coasters (“It’s a snow day!!!”) and a little excitement, the kind that draws the neighborhood out to watch the fire, and a little nervousness, having just seen the footage in the Philippines, we all prepared ourselves to batten down the hatches (a phrase we all know, but we exactly are hatches and how does one batten them down?).

Last night, I went out to dinner downtown with eight other men to celebrate 25 years of meeting together (that’s another story). The night was a balmy 62 degrees and as we wandered around after dinner, the streets where filled with folks having a pleasant evening, that scene in the movie where all is well just before the action starts. Diners outdoors under mild heat lamps were happily sipping their wine, the skaters at Union Square innocently circling around with great pleasure, Salvation Army silver bells ringing while the shoppers were gathering their treasures. The city was alive in twinkling lights and lit Christmas trees and electric trains circling around. We made it to the 32nd floor of the St. Francis Hotel, almost crashed a Paypal party, but were gently ushered away by affable women security guards. But not before they let us peek out the window at the dazzling city below, a sight I never tire of with all the landmarks of Coit Tower and the bridges and the skaters now seen from above. Not a sprinkle of rain or sign of what was to come, the proverbial calm before the storm.

But in early morning, just as predicted, the first drops out my window and after morning meditation, the pace picking up and the wind starting to blow and little streams running off the table on the deck and a crescendo of pitter-patter on the upstairs deck above our ceiling. It’s 8 a.m and the drama has just begun. In drought-stricken California, every drop is welcomed, but still there is worry about too much too soon and sewers overflowing and streets closed and ceilings leaking and trees falling. Good reminders that in our god-like status of keeping Nature at bay and controlling the world through our technologies, we are still at the mercy of natural forces. Keeps us properly humble and with the right attitude, spiritually awed by powers beyond our grasp.

May the tarred roofs hold tight, may the tree roots hold, may the rains be merciful. It’s going to be an interesting day.

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