They say the first game of darts was imagined during the rain. A group of archers gathered indoors in a pub while waiting out the rain, and started aiming their short arrows at a point on the wall.
Someone told me once I am a pluviophile: a lover of rain; someone who finds peace of mind during rain. Last Sunday morning, this felt about right. I woke up to the comforting rain, being lulled in my sleep. Pretty sure I heard it before I ever woke up… I was somewhere between dreamland and awake, listening to the tussling of water on the windows and roof. I had gone to bed the night before with the rhythm of rain pelting and sliding down my window. The wind against the house rattled the wires and the leaves chattered the hours away. Then, all day, it rained, it rained, it rained.
Through my bedroom window, I watched the rain fall onto the street, and cars splash up water, and I was reminded of a poem I have loved for years, by matt robinson from his book A Ruckus of Awkward Stacking: a poem gathered together inside snow, rain, sadness, mourning, and remembering, and one that I have read many times over the years. Referencing the deep loss through death of a mother to cancer, here are a few of the unforgettable last lines of the poem: “I’ve come to realize / people die weather / or not; whether or / not it’s rain, sun, or / snow, they go. they go.”
There is something about rain and how it makes room for sadness like nothing else can. If anyone has seen Four Weddings And A Funeral, you will remember the scene of the funeral, the solemn reverent sadness in losing their beloved friend, and the rain falling as they bring the body and say goodbye, the grass wearing the tears of the mourners. The eulogy includes the famous poem, Funeral Blues, spoken into a narrow and wide space of grief, by W. H. Auden:
“The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.”
The thing is, the poem talks about packing up, dismantling, pouring away, and sweeping up, but rain comes when it wants and it goes when it wants. With it, sadness that accompanies us or days of depression, or making space for tears at funerals. There is also something about rain that celebrates, washes away and brings about the new: wedding couple under an umbrella, a quiet rainy morning of writing, misty rain at the ocean, city rain bringing people together in a dry bus shelter or restaurant lobby; rain watering the earth so new seeds can sprout and grow.
I remember as a child camping in a tent trailer. We were at Emily Park. The rain was pouring down… I’m maybe 7 or 8 years old. My mom and dad and brother and me are all sitting inside the tent trailer listening to tin rain on the roof. We are playing Go Fish. I am colouring inside my colouring books, mostly with bright red, and my brother is reading the Hardy Boys. Outside, we hear the odd voice or bark, but otherwise everything is quiet and cozy. The rain feels safe. The rain comes when it wants and goes when it wants. I cannot control anything.
Also, early morning canoe trips with rain falling softly on the water, on our cheeks, on our life jackets. And chasing the bottle-blue umbrella across the beach into the shallow water after a gusty stormy wind took it from the back patio of our cottage. My dad out in the garden during the beginning of a rain storm. My windows covered in sliding-down rain. The sounds of cars and their wheels pulling through rain, the hiss-iss-iss. The heaviness of clouds pregnant with rain. Horses in rain, their noses turned upwards to the fresh wet air of the bright green field.
The rain washes away. The rain takes with it remnants of memory.
Footprints, fingerprints, moments of mud, chalk words and hearts on the pavement. The rain in some places bringing so much loss. Rain reminds us of what is gone, lost, washed away. It mimics the inevitable release and letting go.
That smell after rain, called petrichor. Through the window screen in the morning from the red-blanket chair. That lingering smell of woods, dirt, wet grass, gardens, moss, damp forest walks.
When I walk in rain, I remember that I am so much smaller than everything. I remember that rain, in the end, always seeps into soil and disappears. I remember how much I long for the rain in those moments when the wind picks up, and leaves stir, and you know the rain is coming before you see it. You know it by smell and by your skin, and you know it by the sound it has made every year of your life.