Friday, September 01, 2006

 

Sunny Rainstorm


After dinner, since the evening promised to be clear and sunny, we drove out to "inspect" our land. Not long after we got there, a cloud drifted overhead from the north and a hard, steady rainstorm ensued. Yet, the sun continued to shine brightly beneath the western edge of the cloud. This sunny rainstorm lasted more than half an hour. How nice to see the two combined!

It reminds me of rainshowers in Jamaica. In 1970, Y and I met while we were both living in a small town called Mandeville, Jamaica. Our parents were expatriates working at the alumina plants in nearby St. Elizabeth parish. Mandeville was nearest "town", with a population of about 10,000. A quarter were expats; half of us were families of the expat employees at the plants, the rest were former British and Canadian civil servants and foreign service workers who had retired to paradise. The town itself was very British (its zenith was when Princess Anne visited in 1955 or 56); their main gathering place was the elite Manchester Cub, with golf, tennis, swimming, and of course snooker tables just off the very colonial bar. You can almost picture Ian Fleming sttreched out in an overstuffed chair in the lounge, holding his "martini, shaken-not-stirred".

Starting at Kingston harbor, the southern coastal plains stretch out to the west for 75 miles or so till they reach the base of a 1500 foot plateau covered with small rolling hills. Mandeville sits in the middle of this plateau, which tames the easterly Caribbean trade winds moderating the tropical temperatures (winters average 60F, summers stay around 75F). Just about every day, between 3:00 and 4:00, dark clouds - heavy with rain - would roll in from the east, entertain us with a brief intense lightning storm, and then deluge us with rain, quite hard, for fifteen to twenty minutes. Then, just as suddenly the rains would stop, the clouds would quickly dissipate and the sun would reemerge. Sometimes, if the rain was delayed until later in the evening when the sun was lower in the western skies, the sun would shine in underneath the clouds, illuminating the rainstorm with dazzling rainbows and sparkling the droplets as they fell on the lush tropical greenery. By sundown - which comes so abruptly in the tropics - everything would be dry, and the night skies would be crystal clear and filled with stars.

Tonight's sunny rainstorm was sort of like that.

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