Saturday, January 21, 2012


Balmy? I snorted. The article called our recent rainless period balmy! I looked up the word. Balmy: pleasantly mild. In my view, days with highs of 40 degrees don’t qualify. Maybe the writer was a bit balmy, crazed by the rain and wind, and by trees that toppled across the state last Wednesday.

Of the folks interviewed about this hurricane-force storm, none had been in Oregon more than 15 years. They probably missed the floods of 1996 and may not have heard of the Columbus Day Storm.

I remember Friday, October 12, 1962 and the winds that ripped off barn roofs and sailed them across pastures. I was in my sophomore year at the University. My housemates and I watched the giant oak in the front yard sway and strain in the wind. The tree held, much to our relief. Later, as my date and I walked through campus, climbing over fallen trees, I snagged my nylons on some branches. Yes, we wore nylons then, held up by garter belts or girdles! I don’t think I owned a pair of blue jeans, and probably wouldn’t have worn them if I had.

But stormy weather energizes me. I inhale the fresh air deep, breathe free and chase cobwebs from my brain. In cold weather, I struggle to force myself to jog; give me a sprinkle of rain and mild temperatures and I bounce out the door. Wet? I’m drenched by my sweat anyway!

Thurday’s truly balmy winter weather—breeze from the south, thermometer creeping past 50, rain diminished to light drizzle—is the kind that inspired my poem, Light Rain.


Light rain whispers on the walk.
A damp quilt seeps through my window,
hugs me deeper into sleep.

Tires sizzle and swish,
wash into my dreams,
splash me awake.

I sigh, swim up through the sodden air,
slip into tights and tennies.

Drenched by essence of Oregon,
I jog into memories of

Light Rain in Portland
by the Joffrey Ballet:
supple bodies in blue and gray
leap and sway,
shimmer across the stage,
amaze, enchant
with stormy grace.

I turn my face to the sky
And shout “Bravo! Bravo!”

I’ve printed the poem with a ballet dancer shadowed behind, a reminder of the joy I get from my dances with the rain. Balmy? I guess I am.

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