It has rained nearly every day of February here, making it one of the wettest Februarys on record. It has felt wetter this winter, it’s true. In between the surprise of snow and the clear mean cold of December, I’ve made particular notice of the dampness seeping in through the cracks around the window and the zipper of my coat. It’s been a wet winter, that’s for sure.
I don’t mind it so much, the weather I mean. The rain is my birthright, as a daughter of the valley, so much so that it can turn anywhere into home with the first few drops. I was thinking about this yesterday when I was out on the back porch, getting my seeds started and ready for spring. It started to rain hard enough that I stopped to watch it come down, as puddles appeared in the yard and our gutter overflowed. The noise is too much a part of me to ignore, that’s what I was thinking.
I was thinking about all the noises of childhood, how some people remember the TV always on or their Dad listening to Bob Dylan or lawnmowers in the summer. I remember the sound of the rain. Tuck and Patti on the stereo, or UB40, or James Taylor—the rain conjures my family, a warm secure sense of safety. My Mom used to make us sit in the car with the radio off, listening to the rain thunder on the roof, she used to take us to a big puddle on the end of our street to play in when it rained. It rained during rugby games, holidays, recesses and homecomings. It rained on dog walks. It rains on dog walks! I stood in the rain today, throwing the ball over and over again while Cedar’s fur turned darker and darker as he soaked up the sky.
So you see, I love the sun, but it’s more of a lover than a familiar friend—a fling I know won’t last, an affair I’ll get burned by. But the rain is a steady comfort, a weather to sink into. That’s the rain to me.
In the farthest places I’ve ever wandered, on some of the most lonely, aching days I’ve ever known, the rain brought back home to me. Once, on a bus in the middle of a quiet country road in western Africa I watched rain come down, streaking across the windows as children ran out of their houses to dance in the downpour, and I took a deep breath for the first time in a month. With the rain my heart finally knew what to rhythm to beat to, I’d been so lost in the swirl of the sun.
We landed in Cuba to rain, our taxi throwing up waves as we sped through the outskirts of Havana—is it any wonder I loved it so much from the start? I was home before I stepped off the plane, coddled by the familiar glisten of wet streets and the soft hush of drizzle out the window.
In Paris we came out late one night from a comedy show to find the streetlights reflecting off the cobblestones, our walk home on one long, beautiful mirror, and I remember it as one of my favorite nights—forget the Catedral de Notre Dame in daylight, I would take Paris in the rain any day. In New Orleans I would sit in coffee shops on particularly stormy days and momentarily leave the twanging, steamy city behind for the quiet clamor of home, the rain a kind of teleportation for my over-heated spirit.
There’s no denying the rain, as tiring as it is, as long as it can make February seem. Not for me. I welcome it as an old friend.
P.S. As further proof that we are products of our birthplaces, I should note that Cedar hates the rain. He is from Idaho originally, from Sweet Home. He was born to high desert plains, wide blue skies and clear cold days. I try not to blame him when I have to cajole him into the backyard to pee on very rainy days. He would try to hold it forever.