Just Rain

When we were interring Daddy in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery (x marks the spot, a shovel, and an urn), rain fell. We held umbrellas, but we were moving, digging and tossing dirt. The August rain dripped slow and steady—not warm, not cool, just rain—and even as it was happening, I knew I’d never act afraid of the rain again. No running to get out of a sudden shower. No hunched shoulders. No grimacing face. Just rain.
The dog and I exit for our 1:00 walk, and rain patters the cobblestones. The clouds have been bruised all morning, but if I’d known the rain had finally arrived, I would’ve worn my yellow slicker—I love every opportunity to wear my yellow slicker. Without the slicker, I stand in the white tee I stole from Tom, the rain wetting the cotton and revealing my turquoise bra beneath. We wander across the parking lot, and petrichor rises from the hot cement. This—walking in the rain without exhibiting any of the social conventions that silently say I know I’m caught in the rain, nothing I can do about it—is the start of insanity. Or sanity, maybe.
When I was a child, rain fell in sheets from heaven, marching down Arlington Street while I stood with arms outstretched, willing it to come to me. Exhilarated at its arrival, I scooted beneath the giant oak whose sturdy arms umbrellaed me as rain splattered the ground. How long does it take to get back to the joy of rain? Not looking through the rain to the sunshine returning on the other side, but the dimples in the puddle, the fish at the surface of the pond opening its mouth, the rivulets sluicing through the waving green grass. Rain for the joy of rain. Does anyone ever pray, dear God, send me what I love even if no one else in the world would ever want it?

joy, petrichor, rain, surviving grief

Comments (10)

  • Love walking in the rain. In the winter I have an all weather jacket that keeps the top of me dry. In the summer, a tee shirt and ball cap do the trick. AND, you are a rare person to know the word “petrichor” and be able to use it in a sentence. It’s one of my very favorite fragrances. (PS I had one of my characters a couple of books back use it, then describe it to the reader. : ) )

    • So nice to know I’m not alone. And I do love petrichor. It immediately takes me back to my childhood when I thought it was the most luscious smell in the world. That’s what happens when you grow up in the beating down sun of Mississipp.

  • Rethinking rain seems like a very sane thing to do. I’m rethinking cool and damp as we enter our second summer of unseasonably cool weather. Nuthin’ to be done about it except buy rubber boots and a yellow slicker and a cheerful cotton cardigan.

    • A yellow slicker AND rubber boots. Now that’s making the best of things. Here in New Orleans, where we’ll be for most of the summer, it’s so hot you limp through the parking lot, trying to make it to the air-conditioned stores. But the rain is glorious–sudden, raucous, tropical. It reminds you that we’re where the water meets land, and the water mostly wins.

  • When we were in China during the rainy season we learned to accept, if not appreciate the rain, and we were astounded when, one night at the movies, the projector went out and two guys got up to fix it while knee deep in the water that had flooded the front of the classroom. They got it fixed, the movie went on, and we were in awe of their courage. The rain never bothered us again.

  • I know someone who began her teaching career with a kindergarten class in AZ. On the rare occasion when it rained, the kids were so excited that she had to drop her plans and take them outside to play in the rain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay in Touch with Ellen's Very Southern Voice Newsletter

Follow Ellen Morris Prewitt

Subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,107 other subscribers