October 24, 2023

A momentary break in the storm.


The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The weather is inclement today, with a high of 54℉ and a forecast of intermittent light showers.  We start our walk at 2:30 PM, so as to catch the most warmth, and, although there is a 20% chance of rain, it’s supposed to be a light drizzle, if it happens at all.  I’m wearing a light jacket (not waterproof) with my wide-brimmed hat and Waldo is in his furry altogether as we start out.  The skies are an overcast gray, allowing for no shadows, and the breeze is slight.  There are a few people, dogs and bikes on the path and no one, including me, seems concerned about the potential for rain.  Waldo, I don’t think he ever thinks about it.  I should know better than to trust the forecast, though.  This is New England and the weather is hard to foretell.

We haven’t gone a mile when a light drizzle starts.  That’s when I first question my decision not to bring along my rain jacket.  I tell myself that it won’t rain that hard and much of the trail is covered by large oak, black walnut, maple and other trees that will provide some cover.  I keep calm and carry on.  By the time we reach the wide-open field next to the Fort Meadow Reservoir, where there is no sheltering leafy canopy, the rain is coming down hard enough to soak my jacket and pants.  I want to look at the weather radar on my phone, but my fingers are wet enough that I can’t make the thing work.  Waldo is shaking himself every few minutes and we are wet.  The moderate rain continues as we pass the athletic fields at the Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School and doesn’t stop until we get to the woods just past there.  Once again under Mother Nature’s umbrella, the rain stops and small beams of sunlight pierce the gloom.  Of course.

As I slosh my way along, I can choose to think about the sensation of water squishing between my toes, or the heavy cold wetness spreading on my thighs, or my glasses mottled with water droplets making it harder to see.  But that’s rather pointless.  Waldo and I are stuck here in the wet, soaked, miles away from dry warmth, and dwelling on what is unpleasant isn’t going to make us any dryer.  And it really isn’t that unpleasant.  I’m not on the verge of hypothermia, I’m not going to dissolve and my things will not get ruined.  It will all pass soon enough and, instead, I can choose to look out at the glistening wetness of the tarmac, listen to the babbling brook next to the trail as it carries the runoff seaward and smell the damp vegetation and earth as we walk along.  The world during a rain storm is a different place and taking note of it is worthwhile.

The immediate universe seems smaller and more intimate in the rain.  The world I can see, because of reduced visibility, seems snugger and more reachable.  The presence of all the raindrops muffles nature’s sounds and I can only hear a short distance as well.  The dryness I’m bathed in on a sunny day and serves as a blanket of sorts, is replaced by water penetrating through what I wear as if reminding me that this is what the world feels like.  I don’t have a very strong sense of smell and usually ignore it, but the smell of the ozone in the air and the augmented odor of fecundity demands my notice simply because it is so different.

As we walk along, I’m struck by the lack of the buzzing of insects, the chirping of birds and the chattering of squirrels.  There’s plenty of sound – the splatter of raindrops on leaves overhead and their splashes in puddles at my feet, just not the usual muttering of life that I hear when things are dry.  I hear Waldo shaking his fur dry and my feet go splat on the ground.  When we’re close to the road, I can hear car and truck tires divide the waters as they pass through puddles and their wipers thwapping back and forth.

It may be my imagination, but the moss and liverwort seem thicker, fuzzier and happier in the rain.  The leaves on the trees are greener, plumper and stiffer.  They appear to me to be smiling as drops of water splatter on and run over their surfaces, then sail free in the air to drop to the ground.  Wait!  I am seeing and hearing raindrops in the trees!  More rain has snuck up on me while I was ruminating about the rain.  Waldo and I are going to get wetter before we’re done.

And that isn’t so bad at all.


The storm isn’t done with us yet1

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