Weather Report (Little Things)

The next 10 days’ forecast is for rain, pure and simple.

We need it (we always need it).

Madrid only gets 60 or so days of rain a year (Atlanta, on the other hand, averages 120; even Austin gets 85). If we don’t get our moisture now, we probably won’t get any at all, and that’ll just up next summer’s brutality.

A while ago, I read Madrileños use rain as an excuse to cancel plans. Like the gatos they get their nickname from, they don’t like grey weather. After only three years and five months here, I’m no Madrileña, but I don’t like to get my feet wet either.

And so, this morning when I woke up, I made a deal with myself: if rain wasn’t actively failing when I stepped out onto the balcony to check for it, I’d walk to and through the park. If it was, I’d just turn on the high-euro-design electric kettle that sits on our kitchen counter and make another cup of tea.

At first, when I stepped outside, I didn’t notice the single brown leaf plastered to the wet cement.

We live five stories up — six in American parlance. The single tree-like thing on our block-long street is the crane that has lived here as long as I have (in Madrid, apparently, it’s not necessarily a bad business plan to spend three years and five months renovating an apartment building). Our bird life is magpies and pigeons; any greenery gracing our balconies was bought at Verdecora. Our dogs are city dogs. They wear raincoats in weather like this, sometimes even booties.

The nearest trees are the plane trees lining the thoroughfare a block away, the arboreal equivalent of magpies and pigeons. They make me think of Virginia Woolf’s London. Between those trees and me stands a city block’s barricade of more 6 to 12-story buildings.

Brave little brown leaf! It took a lot more than any old wind to pick you up and send you pinwheeling into the Madrid sky, which 300 days a year is as blue as the ones in Sorolla paintings. It defied gravity, that you were lifted up and over the hurdle of so many red tile rooftops. It’s practically miraculous, that you landed on the balcony intact and untattered, for me to notice this morning.

Such a small thing, is it even worthy of this many words?

Maybe the world accrues, from these small things.

Other little things:

A new cafe has opened in the neighborhood. It’s called the God Cafe, a name about as imponderable as the forces that got that leaf on our balcony. Who came up with that one?

By Community of Madrid decree and because of the war in Ukraine, the heat’s only on in our apartment building from noon to 10 p.m., at which point the temperature drops so precipitously that I’ve started sleeping with a hot water bottle like a character from an English novel.

Madrid is dressed for the holidays (tomorrow is one, Constitution Day; Thursday is another, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception).

The candied oranges in the window of the bakery glow in the wet weather like little golden suns.

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