It’s been raining steadily for two days in my small part of the world. That’s fine by me. For one thing that means we’ve dodged a major snowstorm: temperatures have stayed a few degrees above freezing as they commonly don’t in February in NJ. This much precipitation had it fallen as snow would have added up to a few feet (1 m). I’m happy to pass on that. For another, I rather like rain. I don’t mean monsoon-style deluges. I don’t hanker for floods and mudslides, but so long as the roof is sound the patter of rain on it soothes the ear as much as the dark gray daytime skies soothe the eyes.
|'The Long Rain' segment of|
"The Illustrated Man" (1969)
The heaviest downpour I ever experienced was a few decades ago on Interstate 70 approaching St. Louis from the West. I’ve been in a few hurricanes, and raindrops smacking horizontally at 80mph are definitely scarier and more dramatic, but what fell in Missouri that windless day had the hurricanes beat in sheer volume. I honestly could not see the front of the hood of the car through the curtain of water, and it was just a little Ford Maverick. I pulled off onto the highway shoulder and waited it out, which fortunately was not much more than an hour. I didn’t mind much. The Ford was a little reluctant to start after the soaking. Start it did, though, and I was on my way.
The record for annual rainfall in the US is regularly won by Puu Kukui in the West Maui Mountains. Even in an average year 370 inches (940 cm) fall there. It’s unpopulated up there, of course. Rainfall at lower elevations along the Maui shoreline where most people live is well under a tenth of that. The record 24-hour rainfall on the mainland was set in Alvin Texas just outside Houston in 1979: a tad over 43 inches (110 cm). The record for 12 hours was Smethport Pennsylvania in 1942: 34.3 inches (87 cm). The record for 1 hour was Burnsville West Virginia in 1943: 13.8 inches (35 cm). The 1-minute record was set in Unionville Maryland in 1956: 1.23 inches (3.12 cm). I’m not looking to experience any records. I don’t want the ground so soaked that septic systems overflow and trees topple: pines are most at risk with their shallow root systems as I know from hard experience. Just a simple ordinary non-catastrophic rain will do fine.
I like walking in rain, too. There is something satisfyingly sensuous about it. There is enough of a boy left in me to enjoy the splash when stepping in a puddle. Just as a personal quirk I never use an umbrella and rarely wear anything resembling a raincoat. This is less obvious in the wintertime, since on a 36 degree (2 C) rainy day I’ll probably wear a coat or jacket just for warmth, but on a rainy summer day I’m likely look like a cat that fell in a pond. I don’t mind that either. Few things are funnier to me during a summer cloudburst than watching guests scramble out of the pool so that they don’t get wet. It is wise to watch out for lightning while swimming, of course, but absent fulgurations a rainy day is my preferred time to dive in.
I’m not actually an exclusive pluviophile. (Yes, there is a word for it.) It’s not that I prefer rain to all other weather. Sunshine has its merits, too. I merely enjoy the alternation rather than just the one. “Blue skies” long has been a way of wishing luck, but I won’t take “gray skies” as the curse it might be intended to be. To be sure, rain does affect my mood, but not in a bad way. (My sister, by contrast, was unpleasantly saddened by rain: no wonder she moved to southern California in her 20s.) Rain mostly makes me introspective. For those of us with a touch of narcissism, that is a good thing. As for sadness, a little of that now and then is OK, too.
So, may your skies be gray – but not forever.
Devil Doll – It Was Raining