Riffs on the Rain

28 May

“It was a rainy night. It was the myth of a rainy night.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Our holiday weekend is soaked by a tropical storm named Beryl. Beryl came early–hurricane season does not begin until Friday. Beryl did not bother to read the calendar. Beryl just formed anyway. The center of the storm moved ashore overnight at Jacksonville Beach packing 70 mile an hour winds and a lot of  rain.

Beryl has been downgraded to a tropical depression and is moving west. One of the things (besides the wind) that makes these things such a pain, is storms like this move very slowly. On the up side, it makes it easy to predict where the storm is going to hit. On the down side, once it gets to your neck of the woods, it just sits there, raining its heart out.

I went out earlier to survey the neighborhood (and walk the dog.) A section of my privacy fence was blown over. Hey–so much for privacy. We’ll be restoring that later today. Mostly there are downed limbs. One of our garden gargoyles lost a wing:

He looks a little grumpy about it.  Other than that, nothing too serious from what I can see. We did lose power last night, but it came back on in about an hour. Then it went out for about 15 minutes, came back on, and has been on ever since. (Knock on wood! If the power goes out again I can’t make coffee and if I want to blog, I’d have to use my Blackberry–and that just ain’t happening. It is all I can do to post a Facebook comment on that phone.)

I live across the street from a church. For several months, the steeple on the church has been damaged, so the cross at the top of the steeple leans. I have been fascinated by this listing cross. Sometimes birds land on it and it straightens up a bit, but mostly it leans in a fashion that looks a little dangerous. I keep expecting some sort of freak accident, like something from The Omen, to occur. I fear I’ll walk out my front door to find some pedestrian has been impaled by the falling cross.

I have taken a number of pictures of that cross. Here’s one from April:

See what I mean. That baby is listing badly.

Guess what I found when I went out this morning to see what Beryl had been up to?

That’s right–the cross has been blown straight.  I have no idea if it is going to stay that way, but I thought I’d share. I will leave it to others to determine the spiritual implications of this event, but it is, at the very least, interesting.

I usually blog early in the morning, before work. I generally hitch a ride on my stream of consciousness and start typing. It a quick, drive-by way to blog.

But today is a holiday and there’s a tropical depression swirling outside of my door. I might as well keep on typing.

I was really thinking when I sat down to write this morning, that I’d riff about rain. James Dickey, the poet and author of Deliverance said, “A poet is someone who stands outside in the rain hoping to be struck by lightning.”  I think rain appeals to the poet in all of us.

Rain. We all have a love/hate affair with it, don’t we? Sometimes you blame it on the rain and sometimes you find yourself singing in the rain. It can screw-up your picnic, or provide the perfect background music when you’re making love.

Rain can also be a contemplative experience:  “I, too, seem to be a connoisseur of rain, but it does not fill me with joy; it allows me to steep myself in a solitude I nurse like a vice I’ve refused to vanquish, ” wrote Julia Glass in Three Junes.

As a person who would rather walk or ride a bike than drive, I have had many experiences getting caught in the rain. Sometimes riding a bike during an afternoon shower feels liberating.  Walking in the rain with someone you love is generally considered romantic, although the thought of it reminds me of  The Pina Colada Song–“if you like pina cola/getting caught in the rain”–and I would truly rather get caught in the rain than have to listen to that terrible song ever again. However, this thought also evokes Billie Holiday:  “Don’t threaten me with love, baby. Let’s just go walking in the rain.”

As Roger Miller wrote, “Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.”

I think we can all recall memorable downpours in our lives.

In 2003, I got caught in the rain in Times Square in New York. A hustler from Montreal invited me to his room for $200. I told him I didn’t have $200. He lowered the price to $100. I took a  cab to the Metropolitan Museum of Art instead.

In 1981, my significant other and I set up housekeeping for the first time in San Francisco. We soon learned that in the City by the Bay, there is not only fog, but it tends to rain incessantly all winter.  The weather depressed two boys from the Sunshine State and was one of the factors that sent us packing in 1983.  Our roof leaked and our landlords were rather indifferent. Unfortunately, the leak was located in the bedroom closet.

Still, I remember good things about San Francisco in the rain. One particular Sunday,  we went to see The French Lieutenant’s Woman, then came home and spent hours in bed, having rainy day fun. I don’t know if it was Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep that got us going, or perhaps just the fact that we were still in that phase where two people cannot keep their hands off of each other, but the rain provided beautiful music to the soundtrack of  a wonderful memory.

Sometimes rain can cause you to change your plans. A twist of fate that can alter your life. Sometimes rain forces the kids to stay inside on a day you really needed to be alone.

Rain is both a blessing and a curse.

“Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.” – John Updike

Sometimes rain is sad:

“I always like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying.”― Charles Chaplin

Sometimes rain is happy:

“Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head
But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turnin’ red
Cryin’s not for me
‘Cause I’m never gonna stop the rain by complainin’
Because I’m free
Nothin’s worryin’ me..”

-B. J. Thomas

B.J. Thomas was right when he wrote, “I’m never gonna stop the rain by complain’.”  I like what Denzel Washington said too, “You pray for rain, you gotta deal with the mud too. That’s a part of it.”

Too much rain, we run for the hills. Too little rain, we beg the gods for respite from the drought.

For those of us who live in a tropical climate, rain is just a fact of life. During the summer here, you can almost set your watch by the afternoon storms. The sky turns dark, then opens, and it rains like there’s no tomorrow. Then, an hour later, the sun is shining and the air is thick as the puddles evaporate in the summer heat.

It is hot in Florida. And it is a wet heat.

While I have been tinkering with this blog, making coffee, dealing with my restless dog, the sun has come and gone and so has the rain. Now it is pouring again. One of Bery’s bands passing through.

I wanted to take a few more pictures for this blog and I didn’t close the front door all the way. My dog took advantage and sprinted into the yard.  Usually when she makes her escape, I play hell getting her back in. She races off, loving the life of a free range dog, and won’t come when her name is called. I pretty much have to trick her or tackle her if I want to catch her. Interestingly enough,just now she ran out, ran around the yard, saw me on the porch and must have decided she’d rather be dry than free.

The view from my porch:

One more reminder of why the rain is ultimately worth it:

“Because nothing can be done about the rain except blaming. And if nothing can be done about it, why get yourself in a sweat about it?”
― Ken Kesey, Sometimes a Great Notion

Happy Monday. Stay dry. Or not…

2 Responses to “Riffs on the Rain”

  1. Pamela N Red May 28, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    There is something funny about a gay man writing: “That’s right–the cross has been blown straight.”

    Hopefully some of your rain will blow my way. Glad you are safe and sound.

    • catzenspace May 28, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

      LOL. It does have several implications, doesn’t it?

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