The Rain: Friend or Foe?

October 30, 2011
By collins SILVER, New York City, New York
collins SILVER, New York City, New York
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I shook my fist at nature. I first encountered the dark and ominous clouds Sunday afternoon. I was hiking along the stream towards my solo spot, where I would camp alone for four days, when I felt the temperature drop. The golden trees lost their glimmer as the sun slowly disappeared. After arriving at my site, I set up my shelter, barely noticing the drizzle from above. I began to dread nightfall when I sat in my hammock only to notice a puddle had collected in the bottom of it. The rain quickly picked up. Knowing I would be chilly, I ran around my tarp to warm up. In the middle of the night I noticed my gear had become fully saturated, including my matches. I knew nature was not to blame for my misfortune; I had not set my tarp up properly. Still, I deeply resented the rain for dampening my mood.

Monday morning I smiled as the daylight warmed my face. In the heat and illumination of the sun, the sugar maple trees supporting my hammock no longer seemed dark and intimidating. They were full, and glorious, their golden leaves blowing in the wind like flames. I decided to draw my new friends. I had brought along a camera, but it seemed too impersonal for the surroundings that had become my close companions overnight. Taking a picture was too easy; the waxy paper birches deserved time and effort.

When I looked up, the light shone through the veins of the burgundy leaves. The beautiful colors seemed brighter than the distant sun. I felt like I could watch them, like candles blowing in the breeze, forever. But instead, I took out a measly piece of sketching paper from my bag. When drawing, I believe patience and commitment are more important than talent. It was humanly impossible to capture the essence of the paper birches. The best I could do was to enjoy myself and take my time. I used every colored pencil in my box. I repositioned myself to different areas when my back became sore or my legs began to ache. As the hours flew by, the trees became more than companions. I observed every crook in their branches, and recreated every peel in their bark. But I was not pleased with my drawing. Something was missing, or maybe it was impossible to compare an image I had created to the personality and warmth of the trees around me.

I could feel a breeze. But even before I shivered, I noticed the leaves hanging low were no longer lit from above. The sun had disappeared behind the enemies I had encountered Sunday evening. But I decided to face them this time. I knew I had no control over the weather. I hoped that, if I wore the proper clothes, remained active, and embraced it, I would be able to befriend the rain. I remained where I was, courageously sitting on a log. Soon the droplets fell on my hair, slid across my jacket, down to where my rough paper absorbed them. I was slightly concerned for my drawing. But the process was too appealing to worry about the final product. I ignored my hesitation.

The water leaked across the page, dampening the colors and smudging them beautifully. Was I imagining it, or was the rain actually improving my drawing? I looked into the box of colored pencils and, for the first time, I read the label: “watercolor pencils.” I had been drawing for two months now without even realizing my pencils were supposed to be dipped in water. The rain, the bane of my existence Sunday, had become my ally, my partner in capturing nature. The water enhanced my art as quickly as it had soaked my clothes and ruined my night. I was grateful I endured the weather, because, not only did I manage to coexist with it, I enjoyed it.

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