For a novel that hosts a blizzard at its center, it is hard to find inspiration in rain. I need snow, dreams of snow or its memory.
You see, in wine country when winter comes, the rains begin. The cold creeps under the doors and through the sashes of windows, but this isn't the cold I knew as a child. That was a stern cold, a hard dry cold that woke the hairs in your nose and set tears in your eyes.
Winter cold in the mountains and plains of Colorado was a bracing cold that invited accomplishment: Come, ski! Come, climb! Come shovel paths! Come walk for miles with bright fires blooming on your cheeks and mists of breath running before you! Then run inside, sip hot tea or lemonade or wine, and cuddle yourself in delicious warmth.
Colorado cold was a cautionary cold that warned you before you got far from your door: go back and wrap up warmly, or die. It was a viking cold that pillaged and ravened, but came boldly with no disguise. Not like the chilly, insidious winter of California, with weeping eaves and mushrooms coming up on the borders of the sidewalks.
Here is a sneaky cold, slithering in after weeks of summery heat, to bite the jade trees and rip open the pomegranates on their branches. Winter rains here soak into the soil and vanish, or run down hilly streets and concrete streams to the Pacific without ever touching dirt. The oaks and bare-pruned grape vines may drink it in, but it does not nourish or invigorate man. Warmth is stripped from the sky and from the air.
We want the rain until it comes, and even for some while afterward. But at last, chilled to the soul, we can only stare glumly through the windows at steel skies, knowing the sad truth.
Winter in California has no inspiration of snow.
Total: 22,012 words.
Stone Rosevelt: Cold and Bitter Rain