The rain storms that would blow ashore on the coast of Maine when I was young were sudden and violent as only storms in the North Atlantic can be. I was terrified by thunder and lightening and any but the gentlest of rain storms would fill me with foreboding and fear.
My father was determined both to cure me of my fear and to instill in me his love for the wildness that rode on the wings of storms. To show me there was nothing to be afraid of he would dress me up in a rain slicker and southwester (rain hat) and we would set out to walk in the rain in the midst of the thunder and lightening no matter how violent the storm.
The harbor was but two miles or so from our home and often we would walk to Mill Cove to watch the surf crashing into shore.
As I recall it took but one summer to drive the fear from me and turn me into one of those 'nutters' you see out walking in hurricanes which father and I quite literally would do.
Do you remember when you were a kid? You would be in your yard playing and suddenly the heavens would open up. You would run and race in the rain and dance in the mud puddles until your mother came to the door to call you inside and end the fun. Do you remember the joy you felt in the rain?
When did that leave us? When did it suddenly seem to be wrong to be out in the rain? When did it become a problem to become soaked through to the skin? When did the magic go away? Did our mother call us inside once too often? Or was it our teenage years that made looking like a drowned rat become unfashionable? What was it? Why did the magic go away.
The central interior of British Columbia is actually the start of the Great American Desert and is known for its long, hot, dry summers. This year has been anything but hot or dry. One rain storm after another has assaulted us for weeks now. The foliage which is usually brown by this time of year is so lush and green it is like living in the emerald city.
Looking outside a while ago I saw a storm was brewing and decided to drive to town to walk the river walk before it began to rain. As I began the walk the wind suddenly increased to a very strong blow but I thought I might be able to do half the loop. Suddenly I was in the midst of a storm of biblical proportions. The thunder rolled, the lightening cracked and the rain started to fall in torrents. I started to sort out in my head where the closest shelter was. Did I head forward to the bridge underpass? Was it closer to shelter to turn back and take cover under that large tree I had passed.
And in the few seconds it took to process that little decision I realized I was already soaked and seeking shelter wasn't going to keep me from getting any wetter. And then, the real realization hit me: that it didn't make any difference. And so I kept walking in the rain, walking in the storm, drenched to the skin and shivering, my feet squishing a squashing in my wet running shoes, my glasses to wet and steamed they were useless.
All the while with a huge grin on my face. I started walking with my hands outstretched, palms up, face into the wind and rain and stomping through the puddles. It was the most fun I have had outdoors since I was eight years old. Okay. Perhaps I will qualify that. It was the most fun I have had outside with my clothes on, since I was eight years old.
I don't know when or why rain became our enemy but I am determined not to allow it to become so again. I am not made of sugar. I have no one to impress.
By the time I got back to the car I had to take a taro from the trunk to cover the seat and once home I had to undress at the door, dropping my clothes in a sodden heap.
Do you want some fun? Real fun? Forget you are in your twenties. Or thirties. Or forties, fifties, sixties or whatever decade you are in. The next time you see a storm brewing? Go for a walk. No matter how old you are, if you walk in the rain you will be able to hear your Mom calling you in the back of your mind. You are an adult now. Ignore her and stomp in the puddles.
(Originally posted to Multiply June 24, 2008)