Wednesday, August 15, 2012


My favorite natural phenomenon of all time - rain. It is always welcome. It could be because I have mostly lived in a tropical climate. Dark overcast sky, rolling thunder and the scent of rain touching the soil somewhere far (I was thrilled to find that there was actually a word for it : Petrichor) are all wonderful signs of what is to come. Usually nature’s action is not very discernible unless you see it in a time lapse video. But with rain, you can sense its force and energy as it is happening.

Gazing at a downpour is a favorite pastime of mine. Wonder what it is that makes the indoor space shrink and appear cosy when watching a rainfall. Everything in nature that rain touches looks that much more vivid. The foliage and blooms are greener and brighter, the air cooler and cleaner. It evokes a sense of something very nourishing and cleansing.

I find the sound of rain to be very therapeutic and I can wax poetic about it if I had the skills. When my kids were younger, there was a period when their bedtime music was a CD of just the sound of rain. Maybe it is a feeling of gratitude for having a roof over my head but nothing is more calming than going to bed listening to the rain pounding on the roof.

I am lucky that I have never been adversely affected by it. It might have been an inconvenience oh, maybe a few times. And that includes the time when I had to wade through knee-high water (flooded roads during rains were (and are still) common in India) to catch a bus to work. It was still a pleasant experience because I ended up going back home. A day off from work always makes for a pleasant experience in my books :-)  On days when I walked in a torrential downpour without an umbrella or a coat, when everyone else around me was rushing to find shelter, I might have seemed crazy, but it felt very liberating - a surge of joy to realize that there is no barrier between me and the beautiful raindrop from the sky.

I have been living in the northern hemisphere for some time now. It took me some time to understand why people here complained every time it rained. But I am still bemused by poems and phrases were the rain gets a negative connotation. To me, it never lost its magic. I still look forward to seeing those images of little slanted lines from a cloud indicating rain in the forecast. I will have to attribute my attitude towards rain purely to where I come from. Some of the most wonderful memories of my childhood were from monsoon evenings.

We had the wettest season in a long time here last year. Needless to say, it rained incessantly but I never tired of it. So yeah, I think I will be fine living in Cherrapunji :-)  (actually, it is on my list of places to visit before I die). This year though, there has been news of severe drought all across the US ( I hear about failed crops and farmers suffering huge losses, low water table levels, wildfires and effects of drought on livestock and wildlife. So, for the past few weeks, when the rain is playing catch-up with us, I feel like I am living in a blessed place.

Excerpt from Henry David Thoreau’s ‘The Summer Rain’
Tell Shakespeare to attend some leisure hour,
For now I've business with this drop of dew,
And see you not, the clouds prepare a shower--
I'll meet him shortly when the sky is blue.

This bed of herd's grass and wild oats was spread
Last year with nicer skill than monarchs use.
A clover tuft is pillow for my head,
And violets quite overtop my shoes.

And now the cordial clouds have shut all in,
And gently swells the wind to say all's well;
The scattered drops are falling fast and thin,
Some in the pool, some in the flower-bell.

I am well drenched upon my bed of oats;
But see that globe come rolling down its stem,
Now like a lonely planet there it floats,
And now it sinks into my garment's hem.

Drip drip the trees for all the country round,
And richness rare distills from every bough;
The wind alone it is makes every sound,
Shaking down crystals on the leaves below.

For shame the sun will never show himself,
Who could not with his beams e'er melt me so;
My dripping locks--they would become an elf,
Who in a beaded coat does gayly go.

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