50 words for rain on the roof?

Fallen leaves marinate in the rainwater pooling on the Nuthatch’s deck rail this morning.

CAN YOU HAVE AN URBAN MYTH about the Arctic bush? When does it become a Rural Myth?

The myth I’m thinking of is the one about Eskimos or Inuits having 50 words for “snow.” Or is it 500? Is it, in fact, just a myth?

I swerved back and forth over this fogline of thought early this morning as I lay in bed after a long night of rain.

The Nuthatch has a metal roof. Practical and durable for a wet climate. Safer than wood shakes in the summer fire season. It happens that my bed in the loft is situated such that my head is right up against the inside of that roof, with only some knotty pine, a bit of insulation and a veneer of plywood and tar paper intervening. So when it rains, I hear it.

Here’s the jack o’lantern I carved on Wednesday, before the rains. Good news in the forecast: Sunday is supposed to be dry and warm. Happy Halloween!

Usually, it’s soothing. Last night, it was pretty damn loud.

As my Pacific Northwest neighbors know, we’re having a soggy week, and it’s not over yet. For the Seattle suburbs, the National Weather Service forecasts up to 2 inches of rain tonight. There’s a flood watch in effect. Even my rain-shadowy San Juans could get another inch in the next 18 hours, they say. Normally, this corner of the continent is the drizzle capital of North America.

Last night on Center Island I heard the rain start in the wee hours and continue until I arose around 7:15. For hours on end water seemed to spray from a great firehose in the sky.

As I lay in that limbo zone between groggy sleep and hoping that Galley Cat would finally get up first and make the coffee, I came up with this list of terms for rain on my roof, based on the sound effect.

POUNDING: This is a new one I invented last night. Been to the symphony? Know what tympani are? It wasn’t a good night’s rest. Thankfully rare, though with climate change, who knows.

DRUMMING: This term is more common, denoting steady precip. Familiar in poetry and song. Think “Little Drummer Boy” and “rum-pum-pum-pum.” We get it now and then.

PATTERING: Here’s where I’m lulled to pleasant sleep, with the satisfying feeling of being safe and warm inside my cozy cabin. The trees and moss outside are finally getting the moisture they need. Common here in spring and autumn when the forecast calls for those ubiquitous “showers.”

DRIPPING: See “Pattering,” just not so definitive. The preamble, perhaps. A nagging reminder to clean the gutters, which filled with fallen leaves and fir needles in Tuesday’s big wind storm.

OK, four isn’t fifty. It’s a work in progress. But the rainy season has only just begun.

October in my viewfinder

A Great Blue Heron takes wing from a raft of bull kelp off Shark Reef Sanctuary on Lopez Island. This was my view from shore as I sat on a rock munching my lunch over the weekend.

IT’S ONE OF MY FAVORITE MONTHS in the San Juans, often sun-dappled, when it’s not all rain-washed and fresh. Mornings are often still dry enough for my aerobic bike ride, three dashing laps around the Center Island airfield. Or, when the shores and straits are misty, drippy and fog-horned, I might pull on my rain parka and the Pendleton hat that Indiana Jones would have coveted and I circle the island on foot, often toting my camera. On “dump days,” I might take a hike on neighboring Lopez Island.

I’m often surprised by my finds. Here are a few images from this past weekend. It’s a season to savor.

I saw more pumpkins than people on a recent rainy-morning walk around Center Island.

Center Islanders come up with novel ways to mark their property. Here’s a vessel that would fit right in at Shark Reef.

A windswept cemetery is good fodder for an October photo shoot. This graveyard is on Lopez Island, adjacent to pretty Center Church, built in 1887. The cemetery holds some of the island’s earliest settlers.