Early Sunday morning, before the birds sang the opening notes of a sunrise, a torrential rain beat rhythmically on the roof. The windows were wide open to cool the house from the heat of summer, the earthy scent of petrichor filled each room.
As the downpour continued throughout the morning, it brought to mind weather terms recently used by meteorologists to describe significant precipitation. In January, multiple outlets described an “atmospheric river” heading to the Pacific Northwest with the promise of big snowstorms. Atmospheric rivers carry more water vapor than the world’s largest rivers — flowing from the tropics along the equator to the north and south poles.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published an informative diagram, located at www.noaa.gov/stories/what-are-atmospheric-rivers. In a recent blog, Cliff Mass predicted last week’s wetter weather with the introduction of a “moisture plume” — another term for an atmospheric river.
“Moisture plume” is a terrible term to describe a series of rainstorms. Cliff Mass has been tone- deaf on several occasions and this one may be the final straw for me. I’m no meteorologist, but it seems off-key to use the word “plume” in the middle of fire season, and “moist” in the middle of a heat wave.
“Atmospheric river” is a welcome word. “Series of rainstorms” is even better. As my mom would say, “don’t get all fancy pants when a simple choice does the job.”
While we were getting rain on the valley floor, alpine heights received snow. My partner Joe awoke to a layer of snow on the tent and trail in Merchants Basin. He reported the hike out along Summer Blossom Trail was accompanied by an onslaught of hail and snow.
Knowing he would have a wet hike home, I put the kettle on and prepared a pot of soup for lunch. After weeks of heat, and another heat wave scheduled this week, it felt odd to roast vegetables in the middle of the day and blend them with a savory broth while the tea kettle whistled — sending up a moist plume. Eww. Nope, that phrase is still grossly misplaced in the middle of summer, or any other season for that matter.
No one in my family or friend circle ever made a pot of soup from scratch. I grew up on cans of Campbell’s soup. I recall being invited to dinner at a friend’s house and the soup course was a bowl of tepid water with a single floating slice of white mushroom. In my 20s I read a recipe for minestrone and was floored by the simplicity of making real soup with big flavor — why had no one in my family known about soup? What other simple delights were we missing out on?
With an overabundance of vegetables fresh from the garden, a simple rainy-day soup came to mind. Roughly chop tomatoes, one onion, four garlic cloves, summer squash, and one large pepper. Toss vegetables with a touch of olive oil, and dashes of chipotle pepper, celery salt and oregano. Roast vegetables at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 30 minutes or until slightly browned. Blend roasted vegetables with broth of your choice — I used chicken broth for this soup.