Rain makes me snarly.
I hold up both hands and confess that bad weather brings me down, and I am all too good at letting those negative feelings dictate my behaviour and my mood. Which means I need to practice more, because I feel wonderful in the sunshine, and frankly, I am a delight to know then…but I am that same person, filled with *twinklysparklyhappygoodness* and I need to figure out how to be the nicer version of me whatever the weather.
So this is a story of mind over matter; taking inspiration from others; using thankfulness in a mindful way, and a triumph (albeit a small one).
It was one of the days I was working over on the Island, in a small, seaside town with faded Victorian grandeur peeping past the jostling elbows of tourist shops filled with beach toys and postcards. I was tucked away in a doctor’s surgery car park with my mobile clinic, and although the gentle, refracted light told me that I was almost within smelling-distance, the sea was out of sight. I was walled in by tall, tiled roofs and the backs of other people’s houses.
The crows had been listless all day, flopping through the muggy air like old, windblown umbrellas; restive, irritable and squawking their displeasure as their shadows full of pinfeathers swooped and fought across the baking tarmac. It was as if they knew what was coming, and were arguing about the ‘when’, for as I left at the end of the day, and finally caught sight of the ocean, it was deep grey, with a bruised, purple sky and clouds building thrones on the horizon, ready to turn the heavens into Zeus’ playground.
I put my foot down and hightailed it outta there, coaxing the great, diesel van across the backbone of the Island as fast as I dared, trying to keep the clouds behind me and hoping that the boat home wouldn’t be cancelled. I rushed back into the hospital and tried my best to follow the adage “more haste, less speed”, my frantic movements causing more problems than they solved as I tried to get organised, get the files transferred and get out. Too slow. The gathered skies drew in, cloaking the earth in that unnatural dark until it seemed as though all creation held its breath, waiting for the spark, and with a rush of chill wind, the electric scent of dust and earth and life and rain filled the hospital, and like pebbles hurled by small children, one, two, and then in bursts of crazed staccato, the clouds unleashed their firstfruits against the windowpanes and the storm began with fat, angry drops.
Finally leaving, the corridors weren’t long enough, and all too soon I found myself at one of the warren’s exits, looking out on a car park painted in watercolour blurs; every line smudged and dripping. I peered up into the sky, hoping for answers, as though Zeus himself would lean down and whisper the secret in my ear, but no – the clouds were in earnest, with no break showing through. I could wait ten minutes and still get just as drenched…and I had a bus to catch. So I settled the Hat of Consternation on my head, steeled myself and walked out into the driving damp, finding it still petrichor-scented.
The grey sky was falling and running down the edges of the world, onto the ground, which was running in all directions under my feet – slick with wet and always seeking the lowest point. I followed small streams downhill towards the road, where cars were leaving soapy, grimy tracks behind, and scum was forming over drains. I ran, seeing the bus through the gloom, and with moments to spare, levered myself into a seat next to an old, damp man, who I could tell, would rather I wasn’t there.
He fidgeted and fussed as along the road, with breath-fogged windows and the scent of wet clothes, we bussed and all wished that the next stop were ours. Finally, the ferry terminal was reached, and the sodden remainder disgorged, ready to wait again, for the next ride. Which was fine, because boats are wet anyway, and the sea wasn’t rough. The lines through the waterlogged window of the ferry were even less distinct than on land, the grey sky and grey sea and grey pouring from every angle wandering down my pane as I sunk deeper into gloom and contemplated the cycle ride which awaited me to get home. Ferry to port. Bus to bike. Bike to home, and dry…
Frustration squeezed my mind – I should have known the one day I had an epic journey, to bring the damn car, because even though ten minutes’ cycle isn’t really very far, in the rain it might as well be a million squirmy miles of intense discomfort.
No hat this time, either, for the head must have a helmet (I’ve already been knocked off once, and landed on the helmet, and even for the sake of rain in my eyes I refuse to entertain the possibility of my own demise through sheer stubbornness of not wearing one) and so tucked, steeled and blinking my displeasure as I begin to wet through, I went.
The bicycle bucked and rolled and jolted through puddle-hidden dips. Wobbling, I clung on, shoulders soaked and arms fluffed out like dewdropped dandelions in the unseasonal cold. Shivering and running with drops, Zeus saw fit to reach down and poke my sides with my own wet clothes, laughing as I squirmed in discomfort, jibing as the cold found its mark in the few warm bits which remained on my peripheries.
Yet once into the park, it was quiet and still, the shushing of the raindrops on a thousand leaves like a lullaby atop the runnelled, damp-striped bark. The stillness was almost palpable, as though Nature was basking and stretching herself under the cool shower, letting it seep into every pore – taking greedy, quenching gulps with water pouring from the corners of her mouth as she slaked her summer thirst. All around me, the rain-laced air gave the greens a chance at popping with contrast, and even the moss and khaki tones were bounding out in the visual spectrum and gambolling in the lack of blues and yellows. The grass and trees looked so vibrant they could sing, and so few people were about (all having decided it more sensible to stay indoors, no doubt) that the tiny, rustling noises of creatures in hedgerows and the insistent, warning cry as the blackbird (“Get back, get back! The storm is here – cha-aack!”) called his family home.
In spite of the downpour, as I rode, I found myself wafting through pockets of scented air, where trees or flowers had taken advantage to overflow and leave their scent there, swirling with the silvery rain. Gradually the sky began to lighten and the downpour became less violent, leaving in its wake a gentle, refreshing, insistent rain, which allowed some lines of distinction to return to the world as it peeped through the warming air, all fresh and sparkling, as though it had just come back from the launderette.
Then and there I decided that I would find things to like – the silence, the scent, the lack of people, the soothing sound on leaves and the ground as each drop spent itself in swansong rhythm, and the vibrancy of all those thousands of greens, piling up in a dancing celebration of rain and summer and life…
…and when I arrived home, soaked to the skin and with everything damp and needing washed…I wasn’t snarly.
Post Script: In fact, I was SO not-snarly that I excitedly told Beth (my BlogWife – you remember her?) who purports to love the rain, about my experience, proudly announcing that I’d remembered her affection for the damp-and-drizzly, and that I’d tried my best to borrow some of that attitude. At which point she told me “Well, I love rain…I don’t like being in rain…”