Walking in the Rain
A relentlessly grey sky depresses me more than most things, except maybe a hangover. Or bickering kids. But I love rain, from the mist so fine it is like a cool breath against my skin, to the downpour that fills the body with restless energy and the mind with white sound.
I've just returned from a weekend camping trip with my family, to a remote canyon five hours drive from where we live. The scenery is dramatic, made for thunderstorms, and sure enough, it rained the first evening we were there. Hesitant drops had the five of us (our dog joined the scrum) rushing into our two-man tent, where we made ourselves comfortable and then looked at each other with glee, having cheated the rain. Later, lying snug and warm in our sleeping bags, sipping wine and nibbling green olives, a lamp glowing in one corner and Pip curled in his basket, my husband told us a story. His voice rose above the patter of the rain and the children’s eyes shone wide and solemn as they listened.
I remembered other happy times in the rain. I was once in a room, a living room, and on one side, through the windows, I could see rain coming straight down, like one of those bead fly screens. On the other side of the room, the view of the garden was clear and dry. Disbelieving, I walked out onto the terrace and was met with a wall of rain and glossy, dripping leaves on my left, while the silent plants on the right waited breathlessly. It was odd to think that high above me, a single cloud - its shape and boundaries - was defining the way rain fell on earth.
At other, windier, times, I have watched the rain sweep towards me, and fat drops freckle a field of red dust as soft as ashes, each forming a tiny crater in the powder, like an antlion’s trap. The scent of the hot, baked earth receiving the rain was as heady and rich as the aromas of frying bacon, mown grass and freshly ground coffee.
But perhaps my favourite memory is one of swimming in a calm, shallow bay as a child and listening to the approaching rain, seeing the glittering surface become pitted by a million drops, like frosted glass, and feeling the fine spit of fresh water against my face, trembling from my eyelashes, and trickling onto my salt-pickled tongue. I cupped my hands in front of me to catch the rain, and then let them fall through the layers of sea water, through the silky warmth at the surface, to the cool depths around my legs. The grey of the sky merged with the grey of the sea and there was no horizon; I floated in a gentle, grey, hazy world and felt safe.
Roger Miller once said “Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.” I think I prefer to walk in the rain.