But first some remarks about the weather in the Bay Area. It is pretty predictable and generally benign. Freezing temperatures only once every fifty years or thereabouts. Winter is accompanied by frequent thunderstorms with heavy downpour, egged on by cold air currents rushing down along the coast from Alaska. Around the present time of the year, the torrents abide and the area is getting blessed with clear air and steady sunshine, but still nicely cool temperatures.
Outside the coast, the air above the Pacific is cooled by remarkably cold sea currents, which sweep down from Alaska and deviate from the coast first a bit north of Los Angeles (the opposite to our Gulf Stream, so to speak). This cool air is sucked inlands, rising over the low coast hills and falling down into the valley. To us humble humans it has the appearance of low clouds or, if you wish, a wet blanket that covers San Francisco, the Golden Gate and Berkeley opposite the gate. This at the same time humid and cold blanket acts like a self-monitored air conditioner, enhancing working productivity during the morning hours, the most active hour of the day.
This peculiarity goes on well into autumn, until the valley is getting cooler temperatures again and the sucking stops. As the end of the year approaches, there is again a blessed time of clear air and cool sunshine, which then passes into the winter storm season. By now you may have guessed why my séjour was planned for April/May. I wanted to benefit from the blessed spring period of cool sunshine. Unfortunately, the timing was not perfect. This year, the winter storms have lasted far longer than usual, which the local weathermen attribute to the “El Nino” that plays its fickle influence as far North as California.
This leads us back to the real topic of this posting. I am lodging at a nice little residential street at a certain distance from campus, which keeps us residents here abreast from the ruckus we so much enjoy when venturing to the University, but rather have at a distance when it is time for siesta or quiet evenings. Town regulations forbid the building of large residences in the area, with the result that it remains in stasis. Not a single house has been removed since I lived here 35 years ago.
After the rain, the vegetation is obliging the weather gods by getting off to a tremendous competition in growth. As you walk on the sidewalk, along the residences, you sometimes have the feeling of entering a green tunnel or a jungle, so overpowering the greenery has become after the recent gushing from the sky.
When, as it happened on Monday, the drizzle is stopping eventually and clouds are transforming into mist, you may have the good fortune to observe a beautiful scene above the tree tops: a sun aura, caused by the sun rays being dispersed through a myriad of small water drops suspended in the sky (a phenomenon similar to rainbows).
Let me round up this maybe too meditative essay by showing you some flowers that come to their best in drizzle and its aftermath. Although I am very fond of photographing these jewels of nature, I have to admit that I am sadly amiss as concerns their name. But here I may possibly count on a little help from my friends, especially the botanists and gardeners among you. If you know the name of any of the nine flowers on the posting, please don’t hesitate to let us all know about it. Many of us are ignorant would-be botanists who would thank you kindly for placing your comment in this posting!