Sunday, April 27, 2014

Rain: A Love Story

I've always loved the rain.

Storm's a brewing there on the left; it turned out to be a sunny day after a minute (literally) of rain came down. 

One of those days where the volatile Oklahoma weather worked in our favor, left us with bright, clear sunshine for our field trip to the zoo.

When I was a kid, I loved to spend time outside in the rain. My bubble umbrella and I would go on long walks in the rain, splashing in puddles and watching how the rain created a new landscape in those city streets. Though we lived in a decidedly urban neighborhood in the heart of Milwaukee, I know now that we were blessed by nature. Large, sturdy trees, flowers, vegetation of all kinds surrounded us. Those days we would spend an entire day outdoors, we could feast on raspberries and rhubarb, growing wild in patches here and there or cultivated in yards. We made forts in long-blooming lilac bushes, climbed trees, chased ants off the peony bushes, popped milkweed pods and wondered over the sticky fibers bundled within them. We chased caterpillars and tiny tree frogs--but that was on the sunny days.

Rainy days, we would harvest those worms crawling up to the surface. Splash in puddles. Make boats of folded newspaper to race through the gutter. We'd hole up on our large, creaky wooden porches and design our future. The rain always gave the world a surreal quality. The thunderstorms were scary; we'd explain away the thunder and lightning and puzzle over the sky with its changing colors. I recall one day, sitting on the porch with my dad when tornadoes were in the forecast. He pointed out the sky, the clouds, told me what to watch for.

As a young adult, my favorite pastime was driving around on cloudy, overcast rainy days; we'd pick a back road, use the highways and lake as our guide and actively try to get lost. It never worked; we never really got lost, but it was the best way to spend a rainy afternoon, listening to music and driving.

When we lived in Germany, there was no shortage of rain. Rainy days in the summer, fall, winter and spring; Mother Nature played no favorites. One summer, I think it rained every day.

Our first trip in the fall of 1997 was a bus excursion from the Rhein Falls region where we lived to Bavaria, to see Neuschwanstein Castle (the castle that famously provided inspiration for the Disney castle) and various other sites. The bulk of our time on that bus was spent planning our list of what we needed to be sure to bring with us on all future trips--rain gear was first on that list. We quickly learned that our Levis jean jackets--though durable and on trend--were no match for the rain.

There we are, standing soggy in front of a waterfall in Bavaria. I think this was on the walk down from the castle back to the village. I don't recall clearly as this was a good 20 years ago, but I do remember that overcast days are the best days for traveling in Europe--providing you carried your rain gear.

When we planned our trip to London in August, I was excited, anticipating a chilly, soggy visit, but alas; we were met with a heat wave the likes of which London hadn't experienced in decades. I felt so cheated.

The obligatory red phone booth in London picture. I think this was just outside the Hard Rock Cafe in London, in August, our wedding anniversary. It was hot. Like, seriously hot. Like Oklahoma hot. I was miserable. Oh, and it was the 1990s, so please disregard those overalls.

It took me a few years to realize what was strange about the rain in Germany, but it was the lack of thunder and lightning. Though the rain was common, I can't recall thunder even once. That's good sleeping weather--a nice, gentle thunderstorm.

Now we're in Oklahoma. The weather changes on a dime and when you need the rain, it won't come; when you're fully hydrated, it won't stop. This is a land of feast and famine, and you learn to adjust. As I wrote this post, in fits and starts over the course of a few hours at my kitchen table, the weather has again taken a turn. I woke to rain and hail and large, angry clouds and now the sun shines bright and the wet ground steams as the sun bakes the rain away.

The clouds quickly grow big and fluffy here in Oklahoma.
It's just another spring time in Oklahoma, where the one thing you can always count on is crazy weather. I've learned to celebrate the sunshine when I get it, be thankful for the rain when it just stays rain. Days like today are a relief; when the rain comes hard and fast but not destructive. After living in Oklahoma for ten years, I have too many destructive rains in my memory bank, hailstones bigger than my fist punching holes through the ground (and my roof), winds that blow down fences and of course, the tornadoes. But you can't life your life running from tornadoes. Still today we are surrounded by the rebuilding that happens after storms cut their paths of destruction. But it's the rebuilding I focus on, what I've learned all of my fellow Oklahomans focus on.

Cloudy skies make the rainbows.
The gathering clouds in the sky often do reflect the gathering anxiety within me when I see them, but only as much as my smile is reflected in the sunshine.

Hey there, sunshine.

A rainy day playlist I've shared before but it's always fun to listen to:


  1. One of my favorite rain memories was (many moons ago) running down a sidewalk in Munich as the rain started, kicked-off sandals in hand, floral peasant skirt and white sleeveless eyelit blouse, and seeing a man with a camera snapping my picture. (This is before stalking would have occurred to me!) I felt so, so, so . . . European. Always wish I could have gotten that picture. And, oh, by the way - I had me some of those overalls, too. Totally traded in flattering for comfort!

  2. Oklahomans sure do have a knack for picking up and starting fresh again, even after the craziest catastrophes. Though sometimes I still question my parent's sanity in moving here from Washington/Idaho. My mom constantly talks about going back there, and I have to keep reminding her that my husband and I are setting down roots, and we won't be coming with her, lol.

    Oklahoma's not so bad. You just have to learn to bounce back. A lot!