Sunday, July 24, 2011

To the Hilt

or When More Is More

Sometimes restraint is a fine thing—in the use of cayenne pepper, say, or the wearing of day-glo paisley.  No doubt there is a time and place for going over the top with both, but the tricky part is knowing just when and where that might be.

I can't remember where I saw the advice to flower photographers not to "overdew it," but it has stuck in my mind as something to remember in case I ever see dew again.  (It doesn't feature much in desert life.)  With rain or dew, restraint is generally a photographer's friend.  Two or three drops of water to adorn a perfect bloom and evoke the freshness of morning, or perhaps one large, precariously balanced droplet to catch the sunlight, ting! and reflect the sky in a beautifully distorted, fish-eye lens kind of way—that usually says everything that needs saying, and says it eloquently.  In other words, less is more.

Water practically gushing from a canale during a thunderstorm

Yes, well, that advice went out the window when we had a second thunderstorm this week.*  The official measurement was "a trace," but my neighborhood had good, drenching rain for about half an hour and probably received at least a quarter of an inch.  As I was wandering around the garden afterward, camera in hand, looking at a world dripping with water, I thought, why on earth would I want to be restrained when we've just had rain?  Why capture one droplet when the whole excitement is that we've just been doused by hundreds and hundreds—no, thousands and thousands, or maybe (gasp) even more of them?  Why adorn a plant with restraint when it is glorying in saturation?

Admittedly, a quarter inch of rain isn't that much, but that's precisely why it deserves some over-the-top revelry.  It may not be a lot, but our alternative to "not much" isn't "plenty," it's none at all.  When an enjoyment—a necessity—is scarce, you live it to the hilt when it comes along and thumb your nose at good taste.  Restraint is for those with a better range of choices, who can minimize a pleasure and still have plenty left.

Right now, we in the southwest are delighting in all the raindrops we can, because there's no knowing when we'll see them again.  This is our day-glo paisley moment, our time to relish a hair-raising, eye-watering, smoke-coming-out-the-ears mouthful of hot pepper intensity.  "Overdew" it?  You'd better believe it.  We've done "less."  It wasn't all it's cracked up to be.

The tasteful, restrained flowers of 'Wild Thing' autumn sage

Right now, more is more.

* I promise to stop talking about the weather soon.


  1. I'm with you!!!!Von

  2. Love love love the photo of the water drops falling out of the canale. That is impressive photography!! Love the Hen sedum as well in all its liquid glory.

  3. Semps just hold water so perfectly, don't they? Wow, all that rain - could be Sussex! Enjoy it.


  4. Such a joy to read your posts. I am encouraged each time. The beauty that surrounds me in your words and pictures takes me away for a few minutes and sets me free to view things I most likely will never see in person.

    Thanks so much for giving these gifts!


  5. Ah don't leave the weather, you do it with such panache! Let me revel, we are still waiting. The weather map always swirls the rain neatly around the eye of the storm, in Porterville.

  6. Sometimes less is more, sometimes more is more. Your photos are stunning! I love the drenched look!

  7. Love your photos! I would love to see the overdew look here! Yes, this year, for many, rain is a cause for dancing, celebrating, laughing out loud, and general revelry. I'm glad you chose to rejoice, instead of restrain!

  8. Rain...great in the photos and on the garden. I especially like the dripping image, beautiful.

    We too got 1/2 inch on Saturday night, but the big storm missed us that was only eight blocks away on Monday. Crazy weather.

  9. Von, here's to going over the top! Cheers.

    Baffled, wow—thank you! These were breathless, intense photos to take in a way, because I knew the water would all evaporate soon.

    Dave, I've dumped pitchers of water over these houseleeks before, but somehow they just don't look the same as with actual rain on them. (“Albuquerque—the Sussex of the West.”)

    Elaine, that is incredibly sweet of you. I'm so glad you find a “breather” here. And you are mighty generous to be willing to enjoy looking at someone else's rain...

    Diana, when I worked in radio, a friend at a competing station and I would have long, passionate conversations about how to talk about the weather. (We both spent a lot of time reading forecasts over the airwaves.) I'm sorry you've been left hanging out to dry this month!

    Sage Butterfly—thank you!

    Holley, I don't know how many people I've talked to here who said they ran outside and jumped up and down for joy when the rain started. We're all pretty much dancing in the streets. Thanks for joining in the revelry. I just checked the rainfall records on your blog—aack! You just about need this more than we do, and that's saying something!

    Donna, the whole “scattered shower” thing is such a tease. It drives you nuts to think of a great storm missing you by so little. At least it looks like the heat has broken for you—enjoy the respite!

  10. Rain a quarter-inch at a time is indeed cause for celebration. Mother Nature had a big "overdew" in Sioux Falls on July 26 when six inches of rain fell in two hours! Now, THAT'S just showing off! :0)

  11. klbrowser, that's almost our entire year's worth of rainfall in two hours! Mother Nature is such a diva sometimes!