I think humans generally are drawn to water, but there are some of us who have a heightened affinity. Some people have to have their time at the beach, while others find peace kayaking or tubing on a scenic river or creek. I love those things, too, but I realized about five years ago that I really enjoy rain.
We had a particularly rainy fall and winter that year, and I did a lot of writing and researching under a blanket on a couch looking out a window. To be warm and dry indoors and listening to the patter of raindrops outside gave me an almost unparalleled feeling of security.
As someone who regularly participates in an outdoor sport and who owns a business that depends heavily on nice weather, I realize this doesn’t make total sense. When there’s thunder and lightning, I have to cancel riding lessons, and I can’t work horses myself if there’s a downpour. So, as long as I don’t have anything significant planned outdoors, I find myself relishing the promise of approaching rain.
Even if I get caught out in it — perhaps feeding horses — it’s fine by me. I love the feeling of coming in the house and changing into warm pajamas after being drenched and chilled to the bone while trying to throw feed to the animals. As long as thunder, lightning or hail aren’t a factor, I’m good with spending time outside in the summer getting soaked. In winter, it’s a bit of a different story when a drizzle brings the kind of cold that numbs your nose and makes navigating the inevitable Georgia mud a cumbersome chore. But even then, if I’m able to get out from under a downpour, I still enjoy hearing the rain hit my tin roof or watching the gray droplets obscure the view out of a window.
Of course, I have the option of canceling lessons or coming inside when the skies let loose. I do sympathize with people who don’t have this choice and have to be out in a torrent.
I have tried to convey this devotion to what many people see as an adverse state of the weather to my children. I want them to understand that Mother Nature or fate won’t always cooperate with their plans and that leaning into the circumstance is a way to make lemonade out of lemons on some level. Maybe a rain shower destroys my workday, but I do still have the chance to commune with a good friend — yes, I’m on friendly terms with rain; I know it’s strange — when it makes an unexpected visit.
I often sing to my kids in the car or while I’m making dinner, and both of them are young enough that they don’t mind a little (OK, a lot) of fake opera and various other overblown renditions. I particularly enjoy putting on a heartfelt performance of Keith Whitley’s “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” as an illustration of my emotions regarding rain (the song’s allusions to human relationships notwithstanding) when I hear an approaching storm or see the first drop fall outside. According to my daughter, I’m the best singer around, so I let loose without any shame at how corny my reached-for notes probably sound to any neighbors who have the misfortune of overhearing. Also on this performance playlist are Ronnie Milsap’s “Smoky Mountain Rain” and Eddie Rabbitt’s “I Love a Rainy Night.” (There’s obviously something about country music and rain.)
And I think these little folks get it. An acquaintance had to cancel a visit to our house last week because of an unanticipated storm. I watched for a few minutes on my own while my son and daughter waited inside so I could make sure there wasn’t going to be any lightning, and we ended up sitting under the overhang of our porch and watching the silver, liquid skeins as they dripped off our well house and plunked into the widening puddles on our gravel driveway. The three of us were quite content to live in that moment as it stretched on and on. And it was an unusually long storm. One thing about rain is that it’s often fleeting. Just because it’s thundering doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to enjoy a gentle downpour for a couple of hours. It often lasts less than 20 minutes, so I’ve found that I’d better put things on pause and drink it in while I can.
As I said, I understand that rain means different things for each of us. For me, it’s a chance to slow things down and look for renewal. Not everyone can use a storm for that opportunity, but if you can, I hope you’ll remember that perspective the next time gray clouds gather and thunder announces the approach of a clean-washed earth and the chance to reset part of your day.