Rain has a pretty bad press, perhaps not entirely undeservedly. Living in the North West of England I am no stranger to rain and its damaging impact. Floods in Cumbria, floods in Lancaster, floods on the roads blocking access. People sweeping thick layers of mud and excrement from their carpets, crying about the things they’ve lost; forced to live with the dampness, the smell, the fear that it will happen again and there’s nothing that can be done about it. Yes, perhaps rain does deserve its bad press some of the time.
Yet rain is also beautiful. It is sustaining, we cannot live without it. Ordinary rain, not the kind that comes in endless torrents destroying lives in its swirling waters, is not so terrible. How often do we wake to a grey day and feel oppressed by it, saddened? Is cloud so terrible? Is rain not a welcome thing? We sit, by and large, in our warm, comfortable homes protected from the cold, the debilitating effects. We have warm coats and cars, we have umbrellas and raincoats and wellington boots and a whole myriad of other things to protect us from the minor inconvenience of being wet. Is it truly the rain that locks us in?
It is raining today. The sky is a vivid, pale grey. It is bright, yet muted. There are gradations to it: a darker spot here, a swath of almost white darkening heavily towards the horizon. I am sitting in my comfortable room by the window. The radiator is radiating warmth into the room as it should, as is intended. There is a breeze bending the branches of the eucalyptus tree in the corner of the garden and I am invoking it inside by infusing some eucalyptus oil. A comforting smell. Two crows rest on an upper branch of the tree, all glossy with blackness, cawing their gravelly caw. It is raining; not heavily but gently. It rains for a while and then it stops. There are spots of rain across the window, and I am reminded of being a child and sitting by my window looking out over the grey sodden streets and watching the spots of rain as they slid down the outside of the glass, breaking up into smaller and smaller spots. Which would fall first, which fastest? It is a simple game which can be played by many, and I spent many hours playing it as a child. It achieves nothing, yet how much of what we do really achieves anything
I am soothed by it. The gentle spatter of drops on the window ledge outside has a soft, organic sound to it. Something living is drumming to come in. It would be so easy to open the window and let it in. If I did, what then? A shock of cold air and then that freshness that comes only after rainfall. An earthy smell, the world damp and clean. A dazzle of cold spots on my face, the exposed skin of my arms. The gentle child’s-finger trace of water rolling down my cheek. Which drop will fall first, fastest?
But I will not open the window. I am comfortable here, safely warm and inside, watching the rain fall.