Tag Archives: Rain

Rainy Day Hopes: SOLC #3

Where I live weather casters have to work at nuance. So many days are mostly sunny, sometimes accompanied by night and morning low clouds. And this year, like so many years, we are in a drought, inches away from our whopping average rainfall of 10 inches per year.

When I hear a forecast for rain, skepticism is my first reaction. It isn’t uncommon for for a rainy day prediction to fizzle and disappear, replaced by that that little sunshine icon. And this morning, the sun rose like clockwork, making me doubt the rain I heard about…and even planned for today.

Today was my vaccination day (yay!), so I was careful to dress in short sleeves to make the process easier. But, it was also supposed to rain, so I layered on a sweatshirt and remembered to grab my raincoat as I dashed out the door for work. To the east some patches of stringy clouds were visible–they didn’t look rain bearing to me. When I turned west, I could see the rainclouds gathering along the coast.

After my Zoom meeting with my class, I grabbed that raincoat again and headed off to our local fairgrounds-turned-vaccination-supercenter. I wasn’t sure how the whole thing would work, would I need to walk up and stand in line? Would they tell me they had run out of doses just as I arrived at the front even though I had an appointment? Would I end up standing in the rain?

None of my worst fears came true. I drove into the orange cone maze and made my way around and into the big barn where I’ve looked at livestock during the county fair. My credentials were checked, my arm offered, and my first dose was injected without me ever leaving my car. I proceeded to the waiting area for 15 minutes, and water drops began to fall on my windshield.

Back in my classroom, the rhythms of rain were the soundtrack for today’s planning and preparation. Light drops punctuated with heavier showers. I could see the trees swaying, dancing in time to the rain, through the classroom windows.

When I got home I realized I hadn’t taken a photo today. I grabbed my umbrella (the rain was heavier by then) and wandered around the backyard, looking for a shot that would express the feeling of rain. I remembered how hard it is to capture rain in a photo (something I don’t get to practice too often). I tried to avoid the big pools on the patio and the muddy spots beyond as I explored, noticing how the plants seemed to be reaching out and welcoming the rare sky drops.

Today was a perfect rainy day. I’m ready for sun tomorrow.

Water Works: NPM20 Day 10

Will it ever stop raining? We have gone from impending drought here in Southern California to several inches over our rainfall average for the year. Today alone we may have gotten more rain than we often get in months!

The downside of the nonstop rain is that feeling of being cooped up in the house. We’ve had no real breaks in the rain today…so I finally decided I would walk, rain or not. I got into my raincoat, grabbed my (mostly neglected) umbrella and headed out. The skies opened up about halfway through my walk. I pulled up my hood and popped the umbrella and forged forward. The walk was just what I need…

So today I offer a water poem.

Water Works

In this place

where skies

are desert dry

and sapphire blue

water pours

rushing down streets

pooling on lawns

snails skate

down sidewalks


rise up

birds duck and cover

and I walk

soaking up

sky tears

breathing in



fully submerged

in today’s

water works


Raindrop Rooms: NPM20 Day 8

In these parts we’re known for being fickle about the weather. We want some–until we have it–and then we complain that it arrived. A heavy downpour delayed my walk this morning, but also inspired me later, when the sun peeked from behind the clouds so I could head out into the backyard in search of water drop photos…and a poem.

The mentor poem I left for my students today was Pencils by Barbara Esbensen. We studied this poem earlier in the year and I wrote about it here. And here are some examples of their poems as videos written in October.

Midway through our spring break, I haven’t seen what my students have come up with as they encountered this poem again. But I am looking forward to seeing their writing as their poetic skills continue to evolve.

So with raindrops on my mind, I wrote again with Pencils as my mentor text.


The rooms in a raindrop

are round

filled with reverses

upside downs

mirror image


of the world outside

In a raindrop

molecules hold hands

gripping tightly

to the moisture within

How do they balance

on the tip of a leaf?

Who wipes their tears

when they fall?

From a drop of water

gardens of color emerge

blossoming into stories

of hope and possibility

Raindrops, teardrops, skydrops

wash down the page

blurring and


making space

for new beginnings


In the Rain: NPM20 Day 6

Even though today is technically spring break for me and my students, I found evidence of poetry writing in our Google Classroom. I scheduled a mentor poem for each day this week to inspire and support my young poets–all poems we had studied earlier this school year. Today’s poem was The Blue Between by Kristine O’Connell George.

The steady downpour of rain was another influence evident in my poem and my students’ poems. I’m trying to appreciate the much-needed rain and to find ways to make this week feel like a break. Instead I’m feeling cooped up, without the escape of neighborhood walks. I tried to duck out early this morning, thinking I would beat the rain–just to pull the door open to the skies opening up! I rode that stationary bike…but it’s just not the same for me.

For escape, we took a drive up the coast in the pouring rain. The sight of the stormy ocean was a refreshing change from the walls of the house–even if viewed only through the car window.

My poem:


Raindrops fall

dripping dropping


across sky cheeks

Gray on gray

blotting out color

a palette

of monochrome

And yet

precious moisture

dampens fire risk

feeds parched






Look closely at each


and find the hope




And a student poem by E–also inspired by the rain:


Everyone hates the rain, sulking in their raincoats, 

Hiding themselves under their umbrellas.

I see rain differently,

I see the fun between—

The water to run and splash in

The fun trails to dash across,

Arching up across puddles..

The rain dancing down,

Making gallons of fun,

A river of joy,

Slithering around every house.

In those cloudy days,

I see a different scene.

In those rainy times,

I see the fun between.

And by M (not inspired by rain):

The Gaps Between

Many people see one whole 

I see the gaps between 

               The face standing there

                with only one eye.

                The pigeon flying by

                 The trees in a band 

                 The concrete is Atlas

                holding up the Stones. 

Those rough dark places

I see a different picture

I see the gaps between

SOLC Day 20: How Does Your Garden Grow?

I love plants. I’m drawn to their simplicity, their complexity, the subtle variations in color, the brilliant bursts of color, not to mention the smells and textures and the tenacity they exhibit.

At best, I’m a fair weather gardener. I always have the best of intentions and I love to pick out this plant and that one, sure that I’ll get it planted in the perfect place in my yard or in that beautiful ceramic pot I just have to have.

In reality, most of my plants arrive as gifts, frequently from students and their families. As they enter our home, they claim their position in the kitchen garden window (it’s one of those windows that pushes out, creating a sort of mini greenhouse). Lucky for them, my husband has a green thumb and works hard to keep all the house plants alive and well. He mists the ones that need mist, waters the ones that need water, and leaves those that need little mostly alone.

But every now and then, in a flurry of decorating and cleaning, I purge that window box exiling those that are overgrown or straggly or on their last breath to the back yard. (With the exception of the orchids–they get to stay in even if they are not looking their best!) The exiles take their place along the edge of the patio where they can take advantage of the sprinkling system, ensuring that they will be watered with regularity. (It doesn’t rain much here, so irrigation is essential!)

It’s been raining most of the month of March here (we seem to be trying to catch up on rainfall totals for the entire year), so we’ve turned the sprinkler system off for the time being. With a rain-free day today, I decided to take a break from endless Zoom meetings and worries about student remote learning (Google Classroom glitches) and wandered out into the back yard.

Who knew that dandelions can grow tall…like knee high? And that all phases of dandelion bloom can be represented at the top of a single plant? I love dandelions, so I left these to thrive…if only temporarily until my husband heads out.

Then I wandered over to the exile zone…and wow! Those exiles have banded together to become a beautiful wild garden! Lavender reaches high, waving its fragrant blossoms. Aloe, like a giant spiked serpent, peers out from beneath. Swirls of succulents show their perfect Fibonacci sequence–math and nature perfectly intertwined.

But the piece de resistance (imagine that said with the perfect French accent) is the fuschia plant that I was certain was dead. It is vibrant and healthy…and when I tried to turn the plastic pot it is growing in, it didn’t budge–the roots have reached out of the pot into the ground. Such a gorgeous harbinger of spring!

I can’t take credit for any of the beauty on display in the backyard. Luckily this wild garden mostly takes care of itself (with a little help from my husband). But I am delighting in it today as it lifts my spirits and brightens my day!

How is your garden growing?

SOLC Day 12: A Break in the Rain

I’m fighting some kind of upper respiratory infection and the laryngitis that always seems to come with it. Luckily, I was able to work from home today (obviously not a teaching day for me!) and not even have to deal with commuting on a rare rainy day in southern California.

So I laid low, kept quiet, and got quite a bit of work done as the rain pattered its soothing rhythm on the roof tiles.

So when the light changed in my house this afternoon and I realized the sky had brightened and there was a break in the rain, I checked the weather app and then headed out to the beach for a much needed walk.

Sometimes I feel like I am solar powered, energized by blue skies and sunshine and depleted by days that are pervasively gray. I could feel my energy levels rise as I headed from the parking lot down to the shore. It felt so good to get outside in the fresh air. In spite of the rain, it wasn’t cold out…the conditions were perfect for a walk.

I love that the beach always surprises me. There were people like me, in jackets and tennies walking along the shore. There were those in jackets and bare feet, walking in the water or throwing rocks into the surf. There were the teenagers in bikinis, seemingly not experiencing the chill of water in the 50’s and air temps in the 60’s. And always, always, there are the surfers. Most wear wetsuits year round…and nothing ever seems to keep them out of the water.

And today’s treat was the cormorant. I’m always on the lookout for seabirds–seagulls are usual, but it’s tough to see seabirds close enough to photograph. I saw from a distance that there was a bird sitting on the tide pool outcropping. I had my camera ready and crept as close as I could without drenching my shoes or scaring the bird. I click and click, watching as the bird gets ready to launch. And I catch that shot…just at lift off!

Sometimes a break in the rain is just what you need.

SOLC Day 7: Weather or Not

There’s not much weather where I live.  In fact, it’s not unusual for a forecast for rain to fade away before actually materializing.  It’s been a dry winter, so the prospect of rain is something people look forward to–even if it causes inconveniences.

I spent the last two days working in Berkeley.  When I looked ahead at the weather to pack for my trip, I noticed that rain was expected today.  I packed my raincoat, double checked that my umbrella was in its home in my suitcase, and hoped that the rain wouldn’t be the deluge I experienced on my last Berkeley trip in January that left my socks drenched and my pant legs damp.

When I awoke this morning and peeked out the hotel window, the streets were still dry.  Thick cloud cover quilted the sky, suggesting that rain might just arrive.  By the time I was ready to head downstairs for breakfast with my colleague, the air was damp.  A light mist spritzed us as we navigated the sidewalks to our chosen restaurant.  As I dipped my hands into my raincoat pocket I felt a slip of paper.  Closer examination revealed it was a receipt from my last trip to Berkeley.  Had I not worn my raincoat since my trip in January?

The rain increased by the time breakfast was done, now coming down at a steady rate.  With hoods up, we walked and talked in the rain.  It wasn’t coming down so hard that we had to hunch down, instead we reveled in this liquid gold, knowing our state is in great need of water.

By the time I got to the airport later in the afternoon, the sun peeked out, casting a glow over the tarmac.


My flight home was painless–and especially gorgeous as we started to descend.  Layers of clouds interspersed with ribbons of magenta, red, and orange framed my view of the ocean. As we dipped lower, we sank into thick white cotton, obscuring the view for a bit until finally my city came into view.

I caught the last bits of sunset walking to the car and am left wondering if the rain will follow me here.  The weather app says it will rain overnight, but will it?  Rain overnight sounds good…but in these parts we never know weather or not the weather will arrive!


Poetry Day 8

With a forecast of nonstop rain for today, our plan was to find ways to be out exploring…and also to not spend our entire day drenched to the skin.  We did pretty well, starting our day with some time in Seaside’s tiny aquarium.  I have mixed feelings about places like aquariums and zoos, but I also know that the opportunity to see and learn about animals helps to build empathy and ultimately, appreciation and a sense of protectiveness for wildlife and nature.

I was drawn to the octopus.  I read The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery a couple of years ago,, an account of the author’s experience with an octopus at an aquarium.  These strong and nimble creatures are purported to be smart, the problem solvers of the sea.  I was lucky enough to be in front of the tank when the octopus began moving this morning.  I was fascinated as I watched its suction-cupped arms navigate the glass pane of the aquarium wall.


Great Pacific Octopus

master of disguise

color changer

hide out finder

squeezing into the tightest space

Armed times eight

thousands of suckers in place

climber, acrobat, magician

practicing sleight of suction

on rocks and clear glass windows

showing agility and strength

only possible from this

shell-less mollusk

Giant Pacific Octopus

Douillard 2018

Here’s a student poem that seems to capture my mood for today:

The Peace of Wild Things

When wonder for the world

grows in me

and I wake in the shining rays of the sun,

I drag myself out of bed and to the water’s edge

where I feel the peace of wild things.


And another that is more reflective of a southern CA perspective on rain:

Wait for Wet

I wait for wet.

I wait for the gentle pitter-patter of wet on my green umbrella that waits on a dusty hook in the closet.

I wait for the sound of rubber boots splashing and stomping through wet, sprouting a tail of murky water in wet’s wake.

So much depends on a light sprinkle of wet that tumbles through the clouds and dusts my eager face.


For tomorrow, I am waiting for dry…and off from the seashore to explore mountains!  And of course, continue my April poem-a-day adventure.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Water

I know I often take it for granted–that precious liquid that fills our bodies, covers most of our planet, and that has been rare here where I live for the past six years.  Drought reminds you how much you depend on water and all the dead lawns in the neighborhood are visual reminders of the impact of ongoing water restrictions.  But it’s been raining a lot around here lately.  Normal rainfall is about ten inches a year…and this year we’re already over eleven and a half inches with March still to come.  We returned to school on Monday after a week off with the rain steadily falling–and it rained and rained and rained.  We had rain for nearly 24 hours straight–something our area doesn’t handle very well.  When it rains like that, a waterfall appears in front of my classroom door.  I noticed this overflowing drainpipe Monday.


And needless to say, our students were not enjoying their usual lunch area–instead they were ensconced in our classroom all day long.


You might notice that there are few ways to get around without getting wet when it rains like this.  Kids get soaked going to the bathroom, we all got soaked on our way to the school library.  Water was everywhere on Monday!

On the day before, it was pretty clear that a storm was coming.  A walk on the beach was an exercise in dodging raindrops (success on that point!) and reveling in the many shades of gray as the clouds gathered overhead.  The wind attracted an intrepid windsurfer with a bright green sail…and my camera followed him around as I walked along the shore.


And after a rainy Monday, it was surprising how beautiful the rest of the week has been.  By Wednesday, I walked in the afternoon sunshine after work.  You can see that this seagull and the surfer in the background where also enjoying the water…and the sun!


After work today, I knew I would head for the water.  But I also wanted a change of pace–a new view, something to spark my imagination and my photography.  I headed to a nearby beach–but not the one I walk routinely.  The tide wasn’t very low this afternoon so I had mountains of rocks to climb.  I also found flights and flights of stairs.  I climbed for  a view above the water–and was rewarded with a treat for the eyes!  (No editing was needed or used as I captured this view of endless water.)


But I did play around with this shot of a paddle boarder enjoying the cool waters on a Friday afternoon.  I wanted to intensify the colors and highlight the way the sun was shimmering on the water’s surface.


As I scrolled through my photos this week, water was ever-present in one form or another.  What role does water play in your life and photography?  Does it fall from the sky or flow from the hose in your garden?  Do bodies of water call your name or do you find water in less obvious places?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #water for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Take a look around for water–in any of its forms.  What will you discover when you look at that amazing substance through the lens of your camera?  I know I can’t wait to find out!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

Some weeks I find myself retracing my steps, traversing paths that are familiar, my feet knowing the steps almost automatically.  But sometimes I have to stop, bend low, and take another look to see the path in a new way.  I felt that way in my back yard earlier this week.  It’s been raining a lot here this winter–or at least it feels like a lot after six years of drought, so plants are growing, weeds are growing, cacti and succulents are sprouting these magnificent blooms.  And the scented geranium beckoned with a green that nearly glows.  I love the sense of abstract art conveyed with this shot.


Over the long weekend I was lucky enough to be in Los Angeles (playing with my grandson) and hanging out with my son and daughter-in-law. My usual path as the sun sets leads me to the ocean.  But in this part of LA, the ocean isn’t near.  I found this sunset while standing on the upper level of a parking garage, looking out over the LA skyline.


I frequently walk this path at a local beach…this is the place we call “the corner,” where the beach seems to turn slightly.  It’s also a place that is difficult to get past when the tide is high.  This particular shot feels like a painting to me.


I’ve been playing around with black and white this week as the clouds create paths in the sky and diffuses the light, creating shades of gray.


Yesterday, after a rainy morning and with forecasts of rain all day today, I decided I needed to squeeze in a walk on the beach on my way home from work.  I stopped at Torrey Pines–a path I frequently drive by, but seldom stop to walk.  I’ve been thinking a lot about Ansel Adams as we’ve introduced him to our students through the book Antsy Ansel written by our colleague and friend Cindy Jenson-Elliott as part of a study of photographers, photography and biography.  As I walked I found myself drawn to light and shadow, trying to capture the contrast knowing that I would be transforming my image with a black and white filter.  I know from experience that I need the right image to get my intended effect in black and white.  I loved the path the sun was taking across the lifeguard tower, the dark of the cliffs and the shades of white and gray of the clouds in the distance.  Here’s the original photo (no edits).


And here is my Ansel Adams inspired black and white version.


I do love the effect!

As predicted, this morning dawned wet, painting my morning’s path with raindrops, puddles, and watery lights reflecting in the darker than usual sky.  I couldn’t resist a quick photo while stopped at the intersection, capturing the action in that split second.  It was also a reminder that I would spend my day inside with more than 40 energetic children excited by the wind and rain, a path that we don’t often travel in this arid climate. Mixed blessings…needed rain, the exuberance of childhood, and an opportunity for me to practice patience and appreciation.  I do love my work!


So, as you head out on your daily pathways what will you find?  What’s usual?  What’s unexpected?  Will you seek out a new path with your camera in hand?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #path for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Whether you let your feet determine the path or your eye, head out with your camera and document what you find.  What will your path reveal?