Back to Metroland's Home Page!
 Classifieds
   View Classified Ads
   Place a Classified Ad
 Personals
   Online Personals
   Place A Print Ad
 Columns & Opinions
   The Simple Life
   Comment
   Looking Up
   Reckonings
   Opinion
   Myth America
   Letters
   Rapp On This
 News & Features
   Newsfront
   Features
   What a Week
   Loose Ends
 Lifestyle
   This Week's Review
   The Dining Guide
   Leftovers
   Scenery
   Tech Life
 Cinema & Video
   Weekly Reviews
   The Movie Schedule
 Music
   Listen Here
   Live
   Recordings
   Noteworthy
 Arts
   Theater
   Dance
   Art
   Classical
   Books
   Art Murmur
 Calendar
   Night & Day
   Event Listings
 AccuWeather
 About Metroland
   Where We Are
   Who We Are
   What We Do
   Work For Us
   Place An Ad

Let It Come Down

 

The rain is raining all around.

It falls on field and tree.

It rains on the umbrellas here

And on the ships at sea.

—Robert Louis Stevenson, from A Child’s Garden of Verses

 

A rainy night in Georgia.

It’s such a rainy night in Georgia.

Lord, I believe it’s rainin’ all over the

world

—from “A Rainy Night in Georgia” by Tony Joe White

You know how good that feeling is when you’re just too grumpy to want to feel good? That’s how I thought I had made an uneasy peace with this endless rain.

My laptop is by the window and I watched while three little kids in yellow slickers and Wellington boots splashed in all the puddles up and down the street. Then they stopped in my front yard where there is not supposed to be a pond, but because of all this rain there is what kids would call—and grown-ups dispute—a pond.

The kids jumped up and down in the pond, over and over, like little human Superballs. One of them fell on her bottom, naturally unfazed. Another squatted down to bathe his face like next he was going to pull out his Playskool razor. They were soaked well beyond their skins.

Their mother watched, standing off to the side. Immediately I thought she must be a good mother, a patient mother, the kind who does projects with her kids and who would somehow be able to get them to actually practice the clarinet when they were old enough to be taking music lessons.

I was not that kind of mother. I sold the clarinet. As for projects, I never liked them. They required a level of spatial reasoning my SATs had proved I never had: “Where can I set the piles of laundry so that little Madeleine will have some room to build the wind-powered generator for her Barbie habitat?”

And while my girls would have loved to become so muddy, so messy, so deliciously rain-drenched, I was much too curmudgeonly a mom to have let my kids puddle jump so egregiously (and almost subversively) on every neighbor’s lawn up and down the street.

But as I sat at my computer, watching the rain-soaked urchins, I started thinking that they looked like illustrations from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses come to life. Of course, if they had been illustrations from A Child’s Garden of Verses, the very last place they would want to be is upstate New York in this convulsive dreariness.

Yet somehow, as I watched them, my grumpiness began to abandon me. This felt like betrayal. I had been safe and warm inside my grumpiness. I didn’t want to think of those lovely times when I had gone boldly and uncovered into the weather.

Like when I was in my 20s, too much in love, too young to know the consequences of climate, and had moved to Washington state just south of the rain forest. Yes, the rain forest. We had lived amidst flowers that bloomed while we slept—while it continued to rain. Mornings, I’d scrape the camellias from the windshield.

My beloved had lived in dry lands and the rain had seemed to enchant him. We found washed-away roads, the brittle edges of their blacktop softened; we found bridges that had been built to allow for a change of course. And all the while the rain kept a swath of cloud like gauze around Gray’s Harbor. This wasn’t Brigadoon because it was real and from it real souls emerged. But still it seems as far away as that.

Which may be why there was a strange and wordless comfort in the night-black walk my daughter, Linnea, and I took last summer. When the rain seemed neither to threaten nor stop, we left our tidy bed-and-breakfast and made our way to the edge of a tiny harbor. There we stood, wet as clams, watching anonymous sail boats find their shelter where they could.

Their mast-lights were all that showed, gleaming like fireflies, but heaving in the waves like kids with sparklers on the Fourth of July.

We stood unseen on shore, the sea drawing away beneath our feet with each receding wave. We were barefoot, except for our CVS flip-flops, and we had brought no umbrellas. The rain was warm. We had planned on getting wet and knew we would not get lost.

The harbor was tiny; the sheltered crafts were small. And I was not Matthew Arnold standing on the cliffs of Dover writing poetry anybody might ever remember or decide to forget. I was simply a mother with a blooming daughter by my side watching the pitch and shift of insecure vessels in a rainstorm. There was nothing—not even as yet our skins—at stake.

But in the blackness, the pitching lights atop the small crafts’ masts reminded us that terra firma is nothing more than a cloud in our minds. Maybe we spend our lives in a shifting search for safety—in a random harbor, or in a neighbor’s grassy front yard, a neighbor who will bless our puddle-jumping and splashing, or at least, with the mercy of the distracted, say, let it be.

—Jo Page

jopage@graceniska.org


Send A Letter to Our Editor
Back Home
   
0106_113E
 
Copyright © 2002 Lou Communications, Inc., 419 Madison Ave., Albany, NY 12210. All rights reserved.