it rained today

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

When I lived on the west coast rains were gentle, ever present and mostly seen in the form of a dragon mists twining through trees and up mountainsides. Waking up in the morning and looking out over the bay dotted with tiny tree covered islands I could easily imagine I was caught inside a Japanese woodblock print.

Rain in Austin is an entirely different phenomenon. Appropriately for the world’s music capital, a proper rain event in Austin includes light shows and sound ordinance breaking thunder. Though we have been living through a drought, the climate is normally subtropical. I popped the above video into this post to illustrate a typical subtropical rainstorm; it reminds me a bit of a whitewater rafting adventure.

Climate influences us in so many ways I wonder if it also shapes our psychology and our ways of approaching the world.

When I first moved to the South I was struck by how slowly everyone walked and talked. Arms akimbo. No damn hurry. Nothing started on time. People would stop on the street to just say hi. I admit to a kind of prejudice. I thought these moments in molasses meant everyone was simple minded or naive. I know better now of course. Slow and steady can win the race.

Though I lived on the West coast for a long time I grew up in the North where a person learns to move quickly through the cold: from one warm place to another. Life really was all about the destination rather than the journey. The journey — especially in blizzard conditions — could after all kill you. At 40 below zero exposed skin freezes in less than a minute. Did living that way build in some introversion? I know that I hold my body tightly even today. Does it reflect an unconscious fear? A need to stay warm?

I wonder what kinds of subtle effects may be imprinted on people as the planet heats up. Will extreme heat ignite more rage within us? Will it just feel so oppressive we give up? Will our characters rise up to the occasion?


12 thoughts on “it rained today

  1. There is just something about a Texas rain storm ….I could watch it for hours. I love Austin and miss it! I lived there for almost 5 years …back home now, of course still in Texas. :) We got the rain here as well and it was very welcome.


  2. So much to process here but my focus is on the rain, because RAIN!!! When it first began raining my daughter turned to me and said “Hey Mom – guess what? It’s finally Memorial Day!” because to her mind, that is the place marker for the weekend here. And while I chafe at the idea of getting all this rain at once rather than spread out over several gentler rain events, I’m also grateful. Rain barrels fill, the aquifer gets recharged and rivers and streams are cleared of brush and trash as they rush for the coast. All good.


    1. I really really really need to get some rain barrels set up. Holidays and rain always seem to be connected here. I actually plant things using the guaranteed rain of sxsw and I do not recall ever being let down with the prediction. Maybe that is the long term solution to the drought: declare more holidays and events. =) Meanwhile: thank goodness. Even my skin feels softer.


  3. it is warm here unseasonably so and beyond what we normally know for May – kinda scary and much in the garden is confused. waiting on rain … at least today is dark clouds so fingers xxx . I feel the climate /weather has an enormous capacity to shape our pysche and I have wondered for a long time how it will pan out when so many people live detached /uninvolved/ insulated from what the weather is actually doing. nice to see your rain.


    1. The rain was most welcome. Soothing. They say El Nino can make Australia hot and dry. I hope it won’t be too bad for you this winter.


  4. I am very familiar with that kind of rain! I can’t call it a drought yet, but we have been very dry the last couple of weeks, and today I was studying the horizon, hoping for signs of a thunderstorm. I have long held the theory that the reason Northerners spoke so fast was to keep from freezing their mouths.


    1. hahaha I know right. I must be mellowing because just the other day some telephone solicitor called and the person spoke so quickly I had no idea what they said. =)


  5. I love the quote! We were in Austin over the weekend taking a photography class that the Garden Writer’s Association. gave at Lady Bird Johnson’s Wildflower Center. Just as we finished the class and were heading to our cars the sky opened up. I was so happy to see the rain on all the wildflowers…I am sure they were even happier! Let’s hope we can mend our wicked ways in time to save our planted and reverse the damage we have done. We still live in the garden of Eden if we would only wake up are realize it!!!


    1. It is a beautiful world. I’d love to see or hear more about the workshop if that fits in with your blog sometime. What a neat idea.


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