I love rain – everything about it. The way it looks and feels and smells. I love it in every season of the year. The sweet spring rains that nourish soil and seeds. Refreshing summer rains that deliver us from the heat and parched earth. Crisp autumn rains that soak fallen leaves and smells like nostalgia and expectancy all at the same time. Cold winter rain that makes me glad for warm fires, cozy blankets, and steaming cups of tea.
I am what could best be defined as a pluviophile – a biological reference to an organism that thrives in a rainy environment. But also a recent neologism referring to “one who loves rain; one who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days”. And any of those definitions suit me perfectly.
I have loved rain for as long as I can remember. Looking out my North Carolina gramma’s kitchen window at rain falling on my grampa’s apple tree, making the grass glisten green and silver and puddles form in the sandy driveway. Sitting on the steps in my Virginia grandmother’s kitchen watching the rain fall on her garden, bending her lovely tulips, gray clouds hiding the mountains. Once when I was living with my parents and baby brother in the first level of our house -which would eventually be the basement after the second level had been added – our roof was flat and it leaked during a rainstorm. Mama was annoyed and Daddy was busy covering furniture including my bed. I was delighted by the canvas canopy and hopped onto my bed to huddle in the shadows and watch the rain drip drop from the ceiling into Mama’s favorite saucepot. The sound of it lulled me to sleep and I was sorry when the adventure ended.
Walking in a misty rain is uniquely refreshing – even when it ruined my carefully coifed hairstyle. Nowadays I have let go of the need to control my hair and let it be – a lesson that took years to learn. A reminder that I am in control of nothing – certainly not my hair. Walking under a sturdy umbrella beneath a steady, solid rain is the best. It is a tiny harbor inside a sea of descending rain and makes me feel slightly safe, a little brave, and completely peaceful – even if I’m hurrying to escape lightning in summer or cold air in the winter. The best walks I ever had were under an umbrella in a soft, steady rain walking to and from work on city sidewalks – wishing I could walk endlessly and aimlessly – and a few times I did just that. It was heaven.
The summer rains of my childhood in the Carolinas are most clear in my memory – probably because I was frequently outside when they happened and we lived with windows open in those days. When it rained while I was barning tobacco we kept going if it was only a drizzle. Those of us under the barn shelter worked on, listening for sounds of thunder or watching gray skies for streaks of lightening. We remained mostly dry until the next slide truck of wet tobacco rolled in and then we tied pieces of plastic around our middles to keep ourselves from being totally drenched. But water splashed in our faces, soaked our hands and dripped on our feet and we complained even though it was a relief from the heat and sweat. Field hands worked in drizzling rain as likely as not to be glad for the refreshment it gave their perspiring, tired bodies. Downpours and thunderstorms gave us all a brief respite from the hard work. Those same downpours and thunderstorms delivered me from indentured servitude in the garden and set families and ball players running for cover and ending the excitement of evening baseball games. I have watched many a storm from the safety of a porch or garage – breathing in the mist and relishing the damp air on my face – sometimes poking out my tongue to taste the moisture. When I became a mother I allowed my happily adventurous daughter to don her raincoat, boots, and umbrella and play in the rain to her heart’s content. I hoped she would love it as much as I do.
My pet peeve is complaints about rain – especially those grudging remarks of gratitude when folks say things like “well, I guess we needed a good rain” – that doesn’t really sound all that grateful, if you ask me. It’s as if sun is good and rain is bad – which is certainly NOT true. I particularly dislike weather people who dish out remarks about the rain like it is the worst thing in recorded history when everyone KNOWS we NEED rain. How else would the earth be nourished? I can remember summer evening prayer meetings when farmers and their families bowed their heads and pleaded for rains to keep their crops alive. Rain was serious business to those folks and once we had a special prayer meeting so our congregation could gather and earnestly beseech God to open the heavens and relieve us of the hellish drought that was withering gardens and crops everywhere. When at last the rains came and the earth was quenched people praised the rain but not for long. Soon they were back to complaining about how it ruined their shoes and inconvenienced their vacations. I, for one, have never been anywhere – ocean or mountain – that I begrudged the earth her nourishment. Once when my husband and I traveled across the United States we rode through a torrential rainstorm on the plains of Texas in the middle of nowhere and I came to see and understand the term “gully washer”. Water gushed from black clouds, tore through dry ground, rushed across the roadway, and forced us to slow our vehicle to a near crawl. It was thoroughly terrifying and altogether spectacularly impressive.
I find rain entirely romantic and utterly peaceful. I welcome silver gray days and revel in the sound of rain falling outside my window. I feel embraced by the whole of the Universe. Rain surely nourishes my soul.