The rain came Saturday to Pismo Beach.

Half an inch in 24 hours for our tinder dry mountains. A slow-turning low off the California coast hooked up with tropical moisture off Hawaii in what we call the Pineapple Connection. The wind here went southerly and you could smell it coming – warm, tropical rain.

It slid in over Vandenburg Air Force Base, a long, gray wall of clouds with rain beneath. By nightfall, our months-long drought was ended as storm cells marched over us.

There were the usual fender-benders on our streets and more serious wrecks on Highways 1 and 101 as the local leadfoots had to readjust to driving on slick pavement once more. Six months of oil drip and carbon spew did not help matters much.

What’s worse, the rain washed that ugly combination into the gutters, and it wound up where most of our gutter detritus goes – the ocean. San Luis Bay became a gray- brown sludgy cesspool so nasty even the hardiest surfer declined to enter. They usually stay out after the first rain.

It takes a week of rain to clean our streets and another week of wind and tidal flow to clean up the bay.

The runoff also affects marine life. The anchovy will lie low or go back offshore and the higher members of the local food chain – sea lions and great white sharks – will follow, which is a relief. Shark sightings have continued nearly every other day; but so far, no human has been attacked. Happily, the only casualty outside of sea lions has been a bitten surfboard, and that was over ten days ago.

My wife Polly was pleased she got the rain gutters on our mobile home repaired and washed out a few days before. Of course, she also had our whole place washed down – just like she does her car the day before it rains. She said she didn’t want our home to look "streaky" after it rained! The guys with the cleaning outfit were glad to get the work. With rain expected, they weren’t exactly besieged with orders; and they knew after it arrived, they’d probably be done for the year.

We also had the minuscule area behind our home dug up and re-landscaped so that water would drain away from our breezeway door. I wasn’t optimistic, given the wind-blown ferocity of some of our rainstorms. Unfortunately, our project failed its first test – even with a gentle south wind. Water ran in under the door as usual; and we had to put down towels to keep it from getting under our storage sheds. At least we used fewer towels than usual – but heaven help us when the winter nor’westers arrive!

The weather forecast is for more rain this week – which is a mixed blessing. Our mountains need more to end once and for all a hold-your-breath 2004 fire season. On the other hand, we were due to get new windows on our home, but the installers delayed our date a week; and now, the rainy season has sneaked up on us. The delay has also led to a snarl in cleaning our drapes because my Capricorn wife carefully planned their removal to jibe with the windows coming out. She’s now in the winter-frantic mood I was in a month ago. What a difference one week can make!

Well, we’ll manage somehow.

Right now, we’re fighting an invasion of ants in the kitchen brought out by the first rainfall of the season. I’m also trying to shake off a bad cold – which arrived BEFORE the rain. We’re also concerned about where we can find flu shots for the upcoming flu season. Panic is setting in along the California coast with the media reports of vaccine shortages and the sudden realization that autumn is here.

Excuse me while I go blow my nose