On Rain

It is raining today. It is spring in New England and the skies are the color of pewter; the various greens of spring and blossoming trees are made more vibrant in contrast to the grey. The lawn needs mowing and gardens weeding. However, the inclement weather gives me permission to put off these tasks until tomorrow.

I love rainy days. The urgency of outdoor chores dissipates and time itself seems to slow. I can make some tea, read a little of my book, maybe tidy the house a bit. Perhaps I will set a loaf of bread to rise, but later. I have a manuscript to edit, and I will get to that today, too. After I linger a little longer than usual at the breakfast table.

The language of rain is a lovely longing, even a little melancholy. Rainy days give us words like petrichor – the pleasant scent of rain on dry soil – and pluvial – related to rainfall. The rain might be pattering down – as it is now – or coming down in a torrent. After the rain stops, the earth smells fecund. In the spring, it sprinkles; in the fall it drizzles.

The light patterning of rain on the roof is meditative. I become more introspective on rainy days. I like to leave the lights and radio off and walk on the wood floors barefoot. I may get the broom out and sweep, listening to the sweet swish of its bristles on the floor accompanied by the “shush” of showers outside.

Rainy days are a black and white movie with a filter: every grey has a softer edge. Rain is the Earth sighing. It is a pause in the frenetic pace of existence.

Ubiquitous umbrellas, rain coats, and rain boots are the cheerful accoutrements to rain. There is joy in splashing into a puddle, watching birds attempting to dodge between raindrops and seeing beads of water clinging to flower petals.

When I was little, the first poem I learned to read aloud was “Rain” by Robert Louis Stevenson:

The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.

I read and reread that poem until I got the pacing and pauses right. Perhaps that poem is one of the reasons I love rain so much; the memory of my achievement when I finally felt I could properly read a poem still touches me. The poem’s simplicity is poignant and it stirs a deep nostalgia.

When the rain stops, I will get back to my outdoor duties. I will marvel at the splendor of a perfectly-temperate sunny day. I will survey the gardens and breathe in the scent of newly-opened blossoms. For now, though, the skies are darkening and there is thunder rumbling in the distance; I am going to put on the water kettle and prepare another cup of tea.Image

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