Wednesday, February 18, 2009


As far as I can tell, rain is only a good thing under a very narrow set of circumstances. I grew up in a small town in New Mexico. We didn't have running water in our home and hauled drinking water from the next town over. For bathing and washing dishes we used rain water which we collected in 50 gallon barrels. We heated the water on the wood stove and bathed over a drain in the kitchen floor that led to the garden.
I didn't think much about the rain or the water.
When I was eleven years old I moved to Manhattan. Besides the discovery of amenities, which I took to like a real champion, I was obliged to notice the rain.
Rain in New York seemed very ugly to me. A wet blanket that remained damp for way too long. It brought out awful smells from non-porous surfaces. Urine and sweat and garbage... It made me feel claustrophobic to be touched by the dingy droplets and there in the city, rain always seemed to carry with it an enveloping grayness which was thick and heavy.
As a reader I've read countless descriptions of the "romance" of rain. As a music lover I've enjoyed many songs about the sound of rain as it falls under different sets of circumstances. I've had many friends who's opinions I generally respect describe how enjoyable it is to walk in the rain or to watch the rain fall against the window pane...
But all of these references remain mysterious and unbelievable for me.
I've since moved back to New Mexico and have identified for myself what is good about rain. It must be here and it must be summertime. The storm must be big and brief and full of electricity. Then the ground wakes up. The earth smells like sweet, clean, rich possibility and desert plants respond accordingly. For one who is paying attention a whole crop of colors rise on the landscape, laying low and buzzing with life. Dehydrated bugs wake up and take in minute amounts of water which will sustain them until the next rain fall. The water touches down and stays only long enough to cool and quench before it rises up again. And most of the time, amazingly, when you look up with wonder, somewhere in the sky you will find a rainbow!


  1. That urine garbage smell from NYC is kinda homey to me. I loved NYC rain (freezing) when we got home to warm yellow lit overheated apartments. Sometimes I dug the melodramatic misery of it. Now I just freeze working in the mountains and bitch about the four days a year it rains here.

  2. rain is emotional.

    funny that we wrote rain together. I love what you wrote!


  3. I know something good about rain (but generally I feel the same way about any weather that is not "golf-cart" weather).... RAINBOWS!!!!!!