Recently, my lovely wife and I ordered a “thunder coat” for Fluffy our cute little scaredy dog. It seems that every time we have a storm, and here in Panama that means every day, our dog becomes extremely frightened of the thunder. I’m not talking about distant rumblings either. Currently it is rainy season here on the isthmus and that means big-time, major-league thunderstorms. In our pied-á-terre in Casco Viejo, it sometimes sounds like they’re firing a cannon down the street; other times it sounds like we live next to a bowling alley. In the mountains sometimes the lightning hits so close that there’s no time for “one thousand one, one thousand two, one….” Instead there’s a bright flash, you hear the sizzle and instantly “KABOOM!”
No wonder Fluffy hides under our artsy couch, created by the outstanding furniture artista, Harry Segal. The good news is that the “thunder jacket” actually seems to work. Basically, the “thundershirt” is a snug vest secured around the dog’s neck, chest and ribs. Why it works is more of a mystery. The lady at the pet store said it was like the dog feels as if it were being hugged. This is helpful, because ol’Jack can’t always hug his dog while he himself is under the bed hiding from the lightning. Meanwhile the dog really does seem reassured and its little heart isn’t pitty-patting so rapidly.
It really does rain almost everyday, during rainy season. For potential tourists who might be picturing monsoons, that doesn’t mean it rains all the time. What it means that if it’s sunny now, it still could rain buckets within an hour; and/or if it’s raining now, you have a good chance it will clear off and you can still have lunch at your favorite sidewalk café.
Tips for visitors (after all this publication is called The Visitor.)
- Best chance for clear weather is most mornings, so runs on the beach should be planned before lunch.
- Best chance for rain is between 3 and 5 p.m. That’s why twilight golf offers aren’t always your best deal.
- Should you carry an umbrella? It’s called rainy season.
- Best shoes to wear? Crocs, or some other brand of rubber, water-proof footwear, (flip flops are ideal) because you will be forced to step in a puddle at some point.
For those of us who have lived in Panama for a while, the rainy part of rainy season doesn’t seem to bother most of us much. Being caught in a downpour even isn’t so bad, since the shower is warm and the water refreshing. All you have to do is take off your tee shirt and bermudas and wring them out. (Yeah, I forgot my umbrella.) We don’t change our plans; or if we’re driving somewhere we simply postpone the trip for 20 minutes. Nobody waters their lawns.
Now that we’ve solved Fluffy’s fright problem, I suggest that we all take the same approach. Next time you hear thunder, just go give the one you love a big hug.