Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rain, Rain....

How different rain storms can be, depending where you are.

They are never the same, though, rainstorms. New York rains never leave the air crisp…the rains pour down, hard and hitting the ground in a way that it bounces up… you don’t stand a chance staying dry in a rainstorm that puts out dismal water from lowering skies.... it never looks real, does it? Afterwards, there is a smell of wet sidewalk, damp bricks, too few parks, too many people and of, I don’t know… it simply isn’t clean. You do have the umbrella wars for amusement, that carry on during the storm, nylon monsters clicking and clacking as the owners move forward in an attempt to not be shoved into the gutter—a war I’ve written about before, a war usually won by that old lady in a purple sweatsuit that has been BeDazzled… carrying a big golf umbrella while pushing a cart, shoving everyone off the sidewalk to be swept away in the gutters along with the other rubbish. I always carried a small umbrella, and marveled at those who looked shocked when they came out of the train stations, with a sheet of rain coming down, and nothing between them and the wet. You could get one for $1… it was as necessary as an MTA card, I thought, yet, most people didn’t carry one nor wear any form of waterproof shoe, in a city that you really need rain shoes as part of your wardrobe. The storm would be over, umbrellas close, and no one paid any attention. Sure, there was water, and lots of lightening and thunder, still…

I’ve never seen where the lightening strikes, either, in New York. No fire engines, no scarred trees… it’s almost as if it’s all special effects, some stage manager calling cues. “Stand by Cue 47… sound and lights…sound and lights GO!” and FLASH!!!! RATTLE!!!! BAM!!!! but, no damage. No one really notices the rain in the end except the street musicians who came back out, busking to make enough to get through the winter. I still believe you know when it is spring in New York when the buskers and crazy people come out of the stations, see their shadows and move to the parks.

England has rain that makes you wish you always had them about…soft, your skin looks amazing… the land is green, green, green… except in Ireland were it is a green I’ve never seen, and never will again. God made that green, then, threw away the formula. “Fook it” he said, “Medamnit, I’m never going to let anyone use that green, so, by jingle, I’m throwing away the formula.”. The clouds lie low on the hillsides, so close, you can pull them down and weave them for blankets, you’d think. It rains to much in those beautiful Isles, the mildew has mold. Soft rain, medium rain, hard rain… the best thing about it? I never have to drive in it, ever. My job is to ‘play mother’ and to chatter and navigate our way to and from our destination. Now, the second best thing about the constant rain? When it stops, you are so happy, the rest of your troubles seem like nothing. The flowers are in shades of pastels, the birds are gleeful, the tea is divine, and the Queen shows what is in her purse, we are that happy when the sun shines. (oh, I can’t wait to see what response this brings!)

Back home, in that part of the south I grew up in… rainstorms carry the big clouds that look like potatoes piled up on a plate, waiting for gravy to be poured on them… turning from soft white on the bottom to a James Earl Jones scolding voice colour on the bottom… hard, angry.. You can smell the rain for miles away, I love that part more than anything else.. when the wind shifts, and there it is, the few degrees cooler bit of air, carrying a different kind of moisture in it when it goes past. A fresher breeze, I guess, not as filled with fields of cotton, the river--of an age old city... The clouds move in, and thunder would rumble and shake, and lightening would flash… as quick as you could say “rain” it was doing that… raining. We danced in the downpour, all of us, in our flip flops and shorts and cotton shirts that stuck to our skinny bodies. Like everything else in that part of the world, the rain is lush and warm-- it sluiced off of us as we ran and rode our bikes through the mud…unless that lightening was too close…we’d see the strike, pause, you’d hear counting under our breathes… “onemississippi. twomississippi” waiting for the clap of thunder to see how close it was….and a whistle from a parent called us in. We moved under the carports, playing jacks, sliding on our wet shoes on the cement, mothers in pedal pushers, smoking and playing canasta sitting in lawn chairs…drinking sweet tea, the BEE cards sticking to the tops of the folding tables. The dad’s on the back verandas, standing around, drinking Jax or Dixie beer, watching the grills, the rain beyond… seeing the separate drops that made up the solid wall of water. Those storms begin and end quickly, leaving moist air that is heavy with the scents of soil that came down from Minnesota on the river and dumped there for us to build on, the 8472 flowers in the neighborhood, the age of the City and the rain itself. The clouds moved on, white and innocent again, cicadas start their calling in the trees, birds fluff up their feathers and sing. If you lie down, to nap, the cotton is good against your skin. You can’t stand to be touched if you aren’t under a fan or in artificial cooling, your skin is already damp, your hair curls against every known product known to man… still…there is the lure to walk in it, warm and wet and isolating, slapping bare feet on the sidewalk, lost in thoughts, following the sailboat your daddy made down the gutter as it rushed ahead to the drains leading to the Lake, there to the Gulf… and on to the world.

Ah, but, the storms of the mountains…. sharp, defined clouds, purple and deep gray and black, you know they mean business. Lightening lives inside the clouds, showing through the seams at first. When it seeps out, the thunder bounces off the sheer walls, the echoes adding to the strength of the sound. I’ve been camping (yes, me!) up near Mount of the Holy Cross long, long ago. Not only did I hike in five miles…2.5 up, 2.5 down into the Valley. I carried in a 45 lb pack, and I smoked. Yes, I was that stupid and in lurve. Thankfully, he left me a year later for someone stupider. We were hit by a sudden storm… all of us, lying flat, to avoid being any kind of high point, throwing tent poles and canteens and almost everything else to one side away from us. The lightening hit rocks and trees and skipped around; the air oozed ozone… the thunder almost to the deafening level…I couldn’t hear myself praying, and trust me, I was doing some major lapsed Catholic praying. Alpine sleeping bag over my head, hugging the ground with my face pressed to the mud, I shook more in fear than from the freezing July rain. I swore, if God kept me alive, and let me make it out, I’d never hike or camp again. Both God and I kept our deal. I love mountain storms to this day, and I will sit outside, and watch the storms come in as long as I can, while the lightening strikes, my iron fence hums and the thunder slams about. No more camping, though. These storms, they are sharper than what I grew up with…harsher. When the rain hits, there is no soft bathing of water that will envelop you and let you enjoy your time.. this slaps you in the face, lets you know it is cold, it is not there to play with you, that you’d best seek shelter. People die from exposure in July in these storms. When the storm is done, the job is complete… the air is so clear you can see 100 miles up the valley, so fresh you can taste it on your tongue when you breathe. The indigenous plants have enough water to survive.. Mother Nature's attitude is fuck the stuff we’ve put in the ground, it's not meant to be here.

There was a little cloud just over my neighborhood, that wandered from the main crew.. so light, so thin, it would have been silk had it been material… the kind of silk so sheer, it’s perfection was demonstrated to Maharinis by pulling a length of it though a ring. No noise issued forth, really no rain--more of an example of rain…farcical rain as it were... I could see the sliver of the moon and the stars through it...they made that glimmer of water that fell onto my apple and cheery trees, onto the lilac bushes and the cedar, to the canopy of my swing I sat on-- look as if it were made of silver gilt.. For a moment, I wanted to walk about in it, let the gilt edged sputtering ashamed-to-be-called-rain drift on my skin. Reason kicked in, and I remembered this was a mountain rain, and the beauty hid a sharp, cold bite. I’d freeze my ass off, and although my mind had me speaking Lord of the Rings Elventongue, and wandering in Peter Jackson Middle Earth of soft mists and whispered words on a bridge and....well, you get the picture. I went inside, and read instead.

New York has show stopping rains... New Orleans, the rain will lull you to sleep...UK has rain that lets you adore the colour blue but, those in these Western mountains… they are Götterdämmerung storms.




There is a possibility of planes, trains and passports coming into play by November. Where I'll be living for a few months across the Pond in my other bedroom at home with Loo, the Fiancé, H and M, Cat, Nova, poor, neurotic Frank…

….and Our Neville and Margaret.




P.S. A few years ago, Mom checked into this now closed non defunct hospital (lower floor, corner room) to have me via C-Section at 8.15 AM. I know the time because she calls me every year at 8.15AM and I hear the entire story, how she lived with her parents while Dad traveled with his job with The Man, etc. How at birth, I weighed 6'6...but, she had added 100 lbs to her 97 lb frame living out in the country with her parents, and her once 18" waist was as lost as the Cause. It's a double feature tale... I get this, and how the doctors thought I looked like Myrna Loy when I was 4, and had my tonsils out. She always skims over the fact I remember the operation, and how the doctor shouted to "PUT HER OUT!" when I carried on asking one question after another to my second cousin, who was my doctor. The last one? "May I have them in a jar?". Yes, I woke up, and they were floating in a jar next to my bed.


She gave up her waist, her sanity, she did it for me. Thanks, Mom.

10 comments:

Kelli Wedemeyer said...

sigh.
thanks for painting such a vivid picture.

Bud said...

Wonderful post. Happy Birthday, my love!

vinny said...

It's your birthday?

Ireland green. That sure sounds nice.

plain jane said...

Beautiful. Your descriptions are amazing. I love the rain, almost every kind of it, but the Phoenix-Tucson summer monsoons are some of my favorites.

golfwidow said...

Lightning in New York is just about diffused by the time it reaches the ground from whatever skyscraper it hit.

That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it.

Peter Varvel said...

The queen I met in England had condoms in her purse . . . luckily.

Seriously, beautiful poetic post!

Deb said...

Happy Birthday my Sister of the Heart!! Your gift will be on it's way shortly.
LOVE YOU!
P.S. Mountain rainstorms ROCK!

the Constantly Dramatic One said...

If there's one wish of mine that could be granted, it is that one day I would be able to write like you....

Quin Browne said...

thank you for the birthday greets...

and

cd~i am wordless.


thank you.

austere said...

So completely beautiful. Fragile, like a lace shawl. So rich, like emotions knit-purled happily over hours.

Ireland. I could feel that rain.

Mumbai monsoon seem to be missing from this, don't you think?

:) Have a lovely year, Quin.