Notes from aboard the Pineapple Express

Warning: This might be a long post. I keep threatening to tell you about the farm, and I’m sure I will soon, but what’s occupying my brain tonight is the beginnings of a love story, and that’s what I’ll probably write about.

Our rain gauge is registering more than 5 inches of rain in the last 72 hours. Ben’s been out three times today to make sure all of the culverts are running free on our 3/4 mile-long driveway. And the rain continues to pound.

This is not abnormal. In a somewhat dry year, we get about 80 inches of rain. This kind of storm is what the local weather folks call the Pineapple Express. It surges across the Pacific Ocean from the general vicinity of Hawaii (hence the name) gathering water along the way, and when the air all full of water bumps up against Mary’s Peak just to our east, the clouds stop. Since they are too heavy to go over the mountain, they proceed to dump most of the water on us and our neighbors. Then they move on. But since the storm has come from the tropics, it’s generally accompanied by warm temperatures and occasionally rather exciting winds. It’s not been much below 60F degrees since the storm started, despite the 2-3 days of strong freeze we had just a few days ago.

But I’m sitting here listening to the rain hammering down, and I was jerked back to 1979. Ben and I, accompanied by my 4 1/2 year-old daugher and my 16-year-old stepdaughter (from a previous marriage) had come up from the San Francisco area to spend Christmas at my parents’ house in Florence (about halfway up the Oregon coast). A couple of days after Christmas, Ben said he wanted to go check out his property and asked if I’d like to come along. Mom and Dad agreed to keep the girls, and we promised them we’d be back in time to celebrate the coming of the new year with them.

Ben and I had been friends for more than a dozen years. We were both fairly recently out of long term relationships and sort of stepping gingerly around each other, not sure what direction things were going. We were all staying in Ben’s 27-foot Condor motor home (the same model, he was fond of pointing out, that NASA used to collect and contain returning astronauts).  It was very comfortable. I said sure, I’d like to come along. I had visited Ben’s place a number of times before as a house guest, and I knew how pretty the property was. And I was very much at loose ends.

So we drove up the coast. His land is about 2 hours from the lakefront place my folks owned for years (now owned by my baby sister). We came up and spent several days. And here’s where the rain comes in.

Ben went out each day to walk the land, check the trees he’s planted, and do whatever it is he does when he’s cruising around here on his own. I sat in the Condor with the rain pounding on the roof and re-read Thoreau’s Walden for the first time in about 15 years. I don’t know how to describe the pull of reading this wonderful piece of work in the setting for which it might have been written. But the room was warm, the words were warm, and the company was great. I was ready to chuck it all and go off and be Mountain Girl. And the rain pounded on the roof.

On December 31, I reminded Ben that we’d promised the girls we’d be back to celebrate with them. We packed things up, decided to have a fancy New Year’s dinner in Newport, and head down the coast. When we got to Newport, the restaurant parking lots were jammed and it was clear we really weren’t going to manage our dinner easily. I said I had all the makings of a spaghetti dinner in the refrigerator and suggested that I just cook for us. Ben thought that a great idea, and we drove through Newport to the huge parking lot overlooking the jetty and parked there.

The rain was still pounding on the roof, but while I was busy chopping garlic and onions, there was a pounding on the door as well. It was the Newport police, come to tell us that we couldn’t camp in the parking lot. Ben had been a Newport policeman for a couple of years, and the men who came recognized him. When he explained that we weren’t camping but just preparing for a quick bite to eat and we’d be on our way, they wished us a “Happy New Year” and left. I continued cooking. Ben bustled around rather furtively, saying that he would set the table.

I finished the spaghetti and tossed a salad, then started carrying the food out. I almosts dropped the salad when I saw the little dinette table covered with a red checkered tablecloth, candles burning in candle holders, stemmed wine glasses, and an open bottle of Chianti beside them. I think that was when I had my first flash of “I could live with this man.”

So I hope you’ll forgive me the walk down memory lane. It’s the rain, pure and simple. Ben and I celebrated our 25th anniversary a little earlier this year, and it’s nice to still feel in love and loved.

2 Responses to “Notes from aboard the Pineapple Express”

  1. young Says:

    as i look, wonder, and click the “simple” moments in my mind’s camera during my “newlywed” phase of my life, i can truly appreciate your rain memory. i have always appreciated the smells, sounds, food, the feelings that trigger memories in my mind and heart… your love story has captured a dejavu like memory experience so well that i feel like it’s mine.

    thanks for that. i will start my day with a smile and feeling of sweet melancholy…

    btw, i have changed my last name in case you’re wondering who this is… young kim.

  2. Ryssog Says:

    Hi! Great site, keep up the good work! rv trader

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