Monday, December 15, 2008


After last Thursday's deluge, the rain continued to bucket down right through Sunday, and major flooding occurred all over the island. The newspaper reported gamely that the people who organize the annual marathon had sprung for waterproof timing equipment, which probably put somebody's mind at rest at least. But most of the pictures were of flooded-out houses, some of which were floated right off their foundations by the force of water, and highways disappearing under the runoff. We were relatively unaffected, except that we optimistically went out to the mall on Saturday and found the crowds totally undiminished by the weather (we turned around and high-tailed it back home). It was impossible to watch a DVD on Saturday evening because the rain was so loud, and we had a small pond instead of a backyard (about six inches deep at its maximum, I think); but we were fine.

Yet even a short walk outside during this downpour revealed the endless ways that water could sluice over and off things, a variety of form and fluid dynamics that beggared even English-language description, which hardly ever finds itself at a loss for words. The visible slow erosion of red volcanic soil at the corner of the neighbor's yard sent a rusty flume feathering across the black pavement. The runnels coursing down the muscular trunk of a kukui tree seemed to add ridges to the topography of the tree, until the eye detected the movement of the water. And above the valley floor, pounding curtains of rain wavered across the space between the mountain ridges. Our valley is famous for gentle rains, said to be the tears shed for a lost girl long ago; the violence of this past weekend's rain seemed full of a destructive delight, the water raging over everything in its path and rushing in wherever gravity allowed it to go.

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