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July 15th 2009

    One inch of rain contains an assertion of stability and order that puts gardeners at ease.  Three quarters of an inch seems meager at this time of year, whereas an inch and a quarter, seems a little greedy.   Were I living in Europe, I would have to get my mind around two and a half centimeters of rain to achieve this same sense of an inch.

    In the City of Cardiff, in South Wales, a part of the United Kingdom, rain is plentiful, but it belongs to a different species of rain.  In Cardiff rain arrives off the Atlantic Ocean in slow moving mass, it falls gently as a drizzle, sometimes for days or weeks at a time.   Only very occasionally do I recall there being rain in the sense that vegetables in the garden here in Kentucky might recognize rain.

    Then one summer, in the City of Cardiff, the rain absented itself to the delight of most. It was like a holiday.  Clothes were always dry, the sky blue, sun pleasantly refreshing in those northern latitudes.  In the downtown a good nose could smell sun cream, and girls and boys started wearing less and less.   White arms in short sleeves, turned red then brown.

 

    It was a mood unaffected by requests from the city to reduce water usage.  No one took the slightest notice.  The city paper suspected that water usage had actually increased during the emergency, and when the city was finally persuaded to ration water I could hear baths being filled in the house where I lived. 

    Blissful months later, while walking home from work, a route that took me past the central train station, rain returned.  I could sense the collective sigh in those around me.  A relief that contained sadness, but a pavement so thirsty it just seemed to suck those first drops of rain out of the air. 

    Behind me in the crowd I heard a loud disgruntled voice ask, "Why is it always raining in Cardiff?"  I turned to look at him.  He and his young lady were carrying suitcases.

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(Cardiff Wales weather)