December 27th, 2002

caillebotte_man at his window

Riding the Storm

The characteristic winter rain has set in. This is no wild and windy storm such as we had several days ago, but a constant, moderate rain which falls hour after hour, all the grey day and on into the night. I sat for a long time in the quiet house, listening to the rain. It makes a variety of sounds.

There is the splattering on the walk outside my window, the flat thud of drops against leaves, the high-pitched trickle in the downspout, the quick plink when a drop hits a metal vent pipe, and the drumming on the roof, muffled by the thick layer of insulation in the attic. More distant, there is the hollow sound made as the corrugated iron roof of the shed beyond my back fence is pelted and, occasionally, the loud thump of a drop hitting the window next door, which is not protected by wide eaves. Part of this medley sounds like a rill running over rocks in some mountain glade; part of it sounds like the distant playing of a steel drum band.

Once in a while, the pace will quicken briefly, and then return to the slow, steady beat which is so hypnotic, and relaxing, that I drift off to the edge of sleep, to that place where the world changes in flickering half-dreams. Seascapes form and dissolve, billowing dark sails rush by and take flight as birds; mountains rise and grow and vanish, as insubstantial as clouds; meadows open up in forests and roll out under dark sky, pushing the trees away, the clouds tatter and fly, and I'm listening to the sound of a river spill over a cliff. Then I start awake, and only seconds have passed, and the rain is still falling, and a cat is purring beside me. I wonder where the rain has taken her?
caillebotte_the orangerie

Rain Over, for Now

Stolen from optic, a link to an article by Jim Lewis at Slate, in which he shares some interesting thoughts inspired by the first photograph.

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Late this afternoon, after falling steadily for some 35 hours, the rain at last relented. Although the sun did not emerge, the birds did. A crow perched atop the utility pole in front of my house, and three acorn woodpeckers clung to the lee side (a breeze having sprung up) of the same pole. It's odd how woodpeckers seem quite comfortable standing at a 90 degree angle to the ground. A few blue jays screeched at one another from the branches of the trees (perhaps they were making fun of the canted woodpeckers) and a flock of small brown birds chirped happily as they hopped about on the wet lawn. Even under grey skies, everything looks much nicer after a rain. The pavements and pine needles and rooftops are all shiny, and the tree trunks and wooden fences are dark. The sourgrass in the flower bed by the front door is covered with tiny bright water beads, and larger drops hang from the leaf tips of the bushes and the twig tips of the mulberry tree. Unfortunately, I didn't have time for a walk. I would have liked to go listen to the runoff gurgling through the small seasonal stream at the bottom of the hill to the east. Maybe tomorrow.