A prodigious rain is falling and my thoughts rain toward a prodigious man of rain, Pablo Neruda. I just finished reading his memoirs, published in 1973. Toward the beginning of the book, which was quite obviously written under the influence of watching rain, he writes about the rain in his Chilean youth and the word “rain” appears 11 times within three short paragraphs. I just used it six times in this one.
Neruda writes of the “art of raining” and I had never seen or heard that phrase before. The phrase arrested me. Neruda claims his homeland had lost the “art of raining.” It was drying up. Will Oregon ever lose the art of raining? Other places have. Other places are. Will I lose the the “art of raining” in my life, the non-weather raining? I have thought hard about that during the past year.
I look forward to a rainy walk along the river with my two old canine friends, Bonnie and Clyde. The water will be up, salmon will lurk in the depths and swirls, and that smell, that petrichor smell. It will smell like victory.
Another interesting line pertaining to rain from Neruda’s memoirs was about umbrellas. Umbrellas were cheap in his childhood and only poor people used them. Only rich people could afford raincoats. It was a class thing. There were drops of Marxism in Neruda’s comparison and he was a card carrying communist who once glimpsed Stalin and was accused of killing Trotsky. The proletariat and their umbrellas! The bourgeoisie and their slickers and imperialist running dogs (with rain coats)!
Neruda was probably the most determined and varied gigger in the history of poetry. He’d do a gig in a factory for illiterate men and do one at the front for men dug in deep. He’s do one in a barn and for three naked women around a pool. Neruda had a pet mongoose, too, He also once drank a pitcher of beer at a cafe table with an an ancient tamed orangutan, the only surviving resident of a botanical zoo in Sumatra gone to seed. I want to make a movie of this scene. I’ll have them drink Rainier.
I once was with a woman named after a figure from Greek poetry who called to me to walk outside into the pouring rain and whiskey at three in the morning. She was wearing only a blanket. I demurred. It was a huge mistake. I never told her that. She should know.
Not too long ago, I took a walk in rain in my mind through a neighborhood that had gone to seed. Or should I more accurately—gone to rain—because rain had made it go to seed. The wildness of the vegetation taking over, the mold, the moss, the gutters hanging by a thread, the branches on the roof, the chimneys tipping, the cars sagging in the rain-split driveways. It was a sad neighborhood. The rain falling there for years and years made me sad and that is unusual for me.
I only write in this meandering style when it rains. There is utterly no commercial value in this style. There has been almost no commercial value in anything I have ever written. I wrote a book about rain and it wasn’t about the weather! I didn’t make it rain ($$) with that book, makin’ it rain like the rappers rap. Perhaps the only time my writing on rain will have a sliver of commercial value is if someone reading this makes a contribution to the blog. Make it rain! What’s a meandering meditation on rain worth to you?
All of this is being written while I am outside, sitting on a vermiculated iron chair, under a transparent rain roof, and it is raining and there does seem to be an art to this rain. An artistic exchange is going on between me and rain.
I have been reading classic French and Russian novels and they always contain a “count” character, typically shady. What exactly is a count? I want to be a Count of Rain, an honorable one, however.
And the word “viceroy,” that appears in the classic English novels of empire. I want to be a Viceroy of Rain, in charge of some of its qualities.
Ken Kesey rarely used an article with the noun “rain.” Why bother?
I have 40 copies of my rain book left. I have met so many interesting people through it.
I have swam in the ocean when it is raining. This was in Oregon. It was at dusk and closing in on winter. I was mad, mad, mad, mad to be in contact with everything wet.
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