Monsoons don’t pack that big a punch


ow did I not know that San Diego actually has a monsoon season?

The recent monsoon moisture apparently starts up in Mexico in May and finally staggers in to San Diego in July. And that’s my problem. It arrives rather like the frat boys I used to know, on their return from a visit to Ensenada. It is apparently on its hand and knees when it finally drags into town.

I can’t be the only one who is just a bit disappointed. I grew up reading tales of exotic places with stunning, tropical monsoon downpours that lasted weeks. Hence, when I hear the term “monsoon,” I rather expect some serious rain and wind to go with it. I want to see it bending palm trees and hear it howl around my house. I did hear that some spots in the county got a couple of hours of solid rain, but in truth, that doesn’t even get near true monsoon style.

My impression of monsoons, from rich novels set in India or Asia, were all about the endless downpour that slowed the pace of life and left everyone hip-deep in mud. Then I had a less pleasant recollection of newsreels of Vietnam with soldiers slogging through the endless downpour.

OK, fine. Maybe we don’t want a proper monsoon season, but a few days of solid soakings would not be amiss. Somehow, just getting the raggedy, tail end edges of Mexico’s legit monsoon storms makes me feel like the redheaded stepchild.

“Oh, we got to watch crazy-cool lightning and crashing thunder and see the rain come down in sheets, but here, you can have this sticky weather and just enough moisture to ruin your beach day. Enjoy!”

It’s bad enough that we desperately need every drop we can get. But telling me we can expect monsoon moisture and then getting a scant sprinkling and some sweaty humidity is downright sad. The bit of drizzle most got hereabouts was amusing, but I say we really need to find another name for it.

Perhaps we could call it the “modicum” season, or a spritz storm or maybe just heavy air. As often happens, I did a bit of research for this column and found out that monsoon doesn’t necessarily mean rain at all. It has to do with reversing winds and in fact, part of the monsoon season is dry. And there are the mosquitoes and foot fungus and so forth. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Don’t confuse me with facts.

I am practicing ways to tie my sarong and scouring the Internet for monsoon food recipes (Yes, there are several). A good excuse for soup and chai tea is never a bad thing.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who will eat her words if we get a rainy season. Contact her at



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