As I’m writing this, it is Sunday afternoon. It feels like an early fall day already. It’s brown meadow season with bright blue skies, hardly a cloud, eye-popping flower colors, and a mellowness of air that betrays that the hottest days this year are over. My head feels dizzy, and I’m looking at Mt. Rainier for the umptieth time these past days. No lenticular cloud – no weather change. But my body tells me we are in for rain. Or was it just the past sleepless nights that take their toll on me?
Rain. As a child I simply hated it because usually it meant disrupting outdoor playtime. As a teenager, though, I started embracing it. I guess, it’s because my mother taught me how to use all my senses to experience Nature. And there is so much more to rain than just getting wet. Even the stages of getting wet can be so different. Have you ever experienced horizontal rain on a beach? Or bicycling through it, while somebody up in the sky has decided that it’s time for another shower today – down to your skin? The soft caressing of drizzle in a face that doesn’t have to fear running mascara (anymore)?
Or just observe how it starts raining. There might be even a moment of almost breathless silence before the first drop splashes down – on a leaf that ducks under the sudden pressure; on your hand from which it immediately evaporates as if it never happened; on your driveway where it widens as if to reach out to another drop to unite and color the entire asphalt area a darker hue. Maybe, the drops are invisible at first, then they become bigger, until they are pelting down, and it seems like a white curtain has been drawn across your backyard. They might even splash back upward on the road as if they were jumping on a trampoline. And they build up pools in the ditches where later the sky will see its own reflection.
Also, I find there is no more soothing sound then the rush of rain. Not even the sea or a bubbling brook is as calming. Have you ever fallen asleep to rain with your window open?
And then, the fragrance that comes with rain. It’s as if it were unlocking an entire cabinet of aromas while it’s falling and afterwards. There’s the smell of freshly mown grass that gains a totally new quality of herbal and sweet. The bitter-sweet, almost taste-like scent of wet brick and asphalt, the earthy smell of a wet beach, the cold-smoke fragrance of wet wood, the infinitely sweet and pungent smell of a forest after the rain.
I remember sitting with my sweetheart and his best man under the canopy of my balcony two days before my wedding, when a sudden cloudburst made us flee inside. Or how many hiking tours in my childhood and youth seemed to be ended by a race against darkly looming clouds. These moments of surprise or of an almost sporty competition who’ll make it to the car first – the rain or me?
It’s strange how these days I crave a good rainfall, no matter which time of day. After all, we didn’t have much of a spring other than this cool, dark-gray wetness here in Washington State, and our summer this year hasn’t had more than a week’s worth of real summer days. Even our garden’s harvest will fail us this year because we could plant only comparatively late, and then there was a lack of nourishing sunlight. (If any of you guys has a good recipe for green tomatoes … )
Even music has made much of rain. Have you ever heard the French chanson “Sous le ciel de Paris”? It describes Parisian life and how it gets interrupted by a shower. There’s “Rain drops are falling on my head” and “November Rain”, there are Toto’s “Africa” and Led Zeppelin’s “Rain Song”, even Beethoven’s symphony “Pastorale” describes a rain storm. But the song that comes to my mind first, is one of the first rain songs I ever learned, a call to harvesters to get the grain in as rain is looming; here’s a link: youtu.be/ne__mIBETt8
You see, rain is certainly something you can learn to embrace. Especially when it comes in a balanced way – not too much, not too often, not for too long. Right now, I could do with some birdsong after a good, hard shower – and maybe a rainbow in the sky.