On the Subject of Rain

October 15, 2009
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I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Oregon, a state which is primarily famous for two things: having a trail, and having lots of rain. I think it was the latter of these two things which primarily affected me. As I don’t know what it is but I am afflicted with the horrible deformity of liking the rain which pours in torrents from the overcast skies for the better part of 4 months every year.

I can’t say this was built off of any particular experience. I suppose I like the rain in the same way that a Floridian likes the sun. It’s something you’ve just grown up with. It’s a part of you, an expected event that signals a familiar pattern in your life. It’s something to look forward too, something comforting.

My uncle owns a cabin near the headwaters of the Metolius River. And on a cloudy day in April when my family was driving up there we passed through Silverton, Oregon. Silverton’s a small town, not more than 20,000 people. We passed through uneventfully, but in the fertile farmland outside of the town there were some of the most mesmerizing views I’ve ever seen. The sky was slate gray. William Gibson opened his book “Neuromancer” with the line: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel,” and this was startlingly appropriate here. Far into the distance there were darker clouds, and the distant rain painted dark streaks against the horizon. It was the kind of landscape Monet might have painted. The sun shone through the clouds artfully, and in just the right places. Some might say it was dreary, but I thought it was beautiful

I can’t say this is when I first started to like the rain, but I think this is where I first realized it. I think now I even feel happier when it rains. It’s a security blanket of sorts, a reaffirmation that things are as they should be, the seasons have continued in their regimented rotation, and it appears that water vapor still rises and condenses in the manner that it has for millions of years.

It’s somewhat of the accepted view to think that rain is a dreary thing, all dark and bleak. A nuisance that gets your clothes wet and messes up your hair. But I’ve never thought it was. As long as I can remember it was a fact of life, and the sun was the nuisance. In my mind it’s bright and gaudy, all heat and sweat and squinting. Every year I wait with bated breath for the first overcast day of the year. Then I go about my business all smiles, wistfully staring out the window. And if that makes me an outcast then so be it. I’ll just be happy with my dark skies and artful clouds.

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