“Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary. ...”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I suppose a month of showery and downright gully-washing days shouldn’t annoy us, considering the preceding bone-dry, lake-lowering years we complained about. Then again, after all the intermittent rain we’ve just had, maybe there isn’t enough moisture left in the heavens to send down a good, two- or three-day soaking and get it over with.
But I jest. “Rainy days and Mondays” may always get songwriters Paul Williams and Roger Nichols down, but today, as the sun returned to the sky – at least momentarily – and the earth sparkled from its cleansing, I’ve been thinking of the benefits of the poet’s “some rain.” Other than the obvious – nourishing the ground, maintaining water levels and clearing pollutants from the air – I’m talking about the inner benefits, like the memories I wouldn’t have without Longfellow’s poetic rain falling on my life.
Before I discovered the benefits of swimming, my daily exercise routine used to be a morning walk. One gloomy, gray morning, with rain already starting to fall, I wanted no other exercise than to pull the covers over my head and skip the routine altogether. But I dragged myself out of bed anyway, laced up my Reeboks, and took to the familiar road.
Pit-pat, pit-pat, dropped the rain on my rain slicker hood, the sound amplified by the vinyl fabric so close to my ears. Where had I heard that sound before?
Ah, yes, on a tent roof – or roofs, I decided, as memories returned like a flood.
For a couple of long-ago months, while waiting for our house to be built, our family lived in a tent. The makeshift shelter was far from plush, but it was adequate for our needs, or so I say now. As a teenager, frightfully conscious of outward appearances, I didn’t want my friends to know where I lived. Today I hardly remember the embarrassment, but I’ll never forget the sound of rain on that roof, how safe I felt underneath, or a father who did his best to care for his family in hard times.
I spent a summer in a tent, too, working as a camp counselor on Cape Cod, Mass. Most days were filled with planned activities, except for one evening each week when we counselors had to come up with an entertainment idea for our own tent.
On one of those on-your-own nights, following a solid week of rain, my 6- and 7-year-olds were too restless to spend another evening lying on their cots, singing silly songs or playing sit-still games. So we did the unthinkable: we went walking in the rain. With yellow slickers on and “good shoes” off, we looked like a miniature fire department off on an urgent call.
We sloshed everywhere we could slosh – down camp trails, along a deserted beach, and through puddles instead of around. We felt so naughty.
When exhaustion set in we returned to the tents and hung our slickers on the ropes to dry. Then, snug in dry pajamas, listening to raindrop-lullabies through our sheltering roof, seven little girls and one tired counselor slept like babies.
(Barbara Seaborn is a freelance writer and author of the book, As Long as the Rivers Run: Highlights from Columbia County’s Past. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)