Recent record rains in Astoria brought to watery life some new, old, refashioned, repurposed meditations on rain. They are not about weather. Good hard rain rarely is about the weather.
In Sometimes a Great Notion, Ken Kesey wrote: “Give me a dark smeary shiny night full of rain. That’s when the fear starts. That’s when you sell the juice.” Charles Bukowski wrote, “People run from rain but sit in bathtubs full of water.” Henry Miller wrote, in Tropic of Rain, “These are night thoughts produced by walking in the rain after two thousand years of Christianity.”
These are my thoughts produced by walking in morning rain for 20 years on the Oregon Coast:
Rain is born to run, the sun born to sit in a soft chair. Rain is random, exciting, the sun constant, boring. Rain gallivants, the sun merely beams. Rain ruins guns, the sun keeps powder dry. Rain ruins smart phones, the sun facilitates their non-stop use. Prometheus stole fire from the gods. Who stole rain? No one. Rain was an anonymous gift. The sun compels people to pay for dangerous indoor tans. Rain costs nothing. Rain plays chess and solitaire with you at the same time. The sun plays no games. If you could be any type of rain, what would it be? What’s cooler? Sleet or drizzle. Rain exudes perpetual ruth; the sun often shines ruthlessly. Who would you rather play outside with? Rain or the sun? Puddle smashing is the best kind of smashing. Join the monochrome adventure club. What is your rain dance? What is your best rain story of all time? Lawnmowers loathe rain, grass loves rain. Rain is a bindle, the sun carry-on luggage. What is the color of rain? What’s in a box of rain? You can slide in rain. You can smear rain, but never touch the sun. Rain sluices gold. Rain inspires calm. The terrain of rain is unknown, so go exploring. Rain lubricates the organic machine and pedals the water cycle. Rain is the ultimate in evolution and revolution. Rain transmits, the sun dehydrates. Rain never gives you the whatever. Corduroy is not a great rain repellent fabric yet wearing it feels like rain. Bill Murray character in Tootsie said, “I want 90 people who just came out of the worst rainstorm in the city’s history. These are people who are alive on the planet until they dry off.” Rain strops those who walk into it. Strop! What a verb! Football is always more memorably played in rain because there is mud. I was water-boarded in a junior high football game during a deluge when I went to recover a fumble and became submerged in standing rainwater on the field; ten players buried me face down and I nearly drowned. It was back and forth under the water, gasping for air, until the referee unraveled us. I recovered the football and came out alive. I later scored a touchdown to help my team complete a perfect season of no losses.
Skateboarding in rain is totally bitchin.’ Using an umbrella is cheating rain, a chastity belt. Eliminate all umbrellas from your life! Steal them from bars and hotels and let rain do its proper magic on arid, rainless people. In The Warriors, the boys almost get undone by a gang of girls wielding umbrellas. There is only one rule for rain: advance directly into it. Never let it rain on your parade; rain is the parade. Rain is democratic, the sun a dictatorship. Rain is a woman. America is not a nation of rain. Even corporations need rain. Walking in rain is the beginning and end of understanding yourself. Rain is mystery, the sun obvious. Rain is sonic, the sun silent. Rain meanders; the sun stays put. Rain grays; the sun blinds. Rain makes you improvise; the sun makes you rehearse. Rain is a semi colon, the sun a period. Rain is a noun and verb. Rain doesn’t need an article to introduce it in a sentence; the sun does. Reflections generated from rain are the most beautifully mirrored images in the world. Rain portends nothing. It means everything. Rain falling on the ocean is the waking dream of life. More Portlanders are using umbrellas; this trend will not end well for Oregon. The eleventh episode of the second season of Barney Miller is the greatest existential mediation on rain in the history of television. Dial it up on YouTube and see for yourself. When I served ten days in jail, the only time I saw natural light was on the roof of the jail; it was ten o’clock at night and it was raining and I played the basketball game of horse with other inmates while it rained. I wore an orange windbreaker, decent rain apparel. My rooftop moment was most certainly not like the great ablution rain escape scene in The Shawshank Redemption. My great ablution rain scene after leaving incarceration has yet to occur. It will. It’s gonna be awesome.
I wrote a book about rain that only sells when it rains. I tried to make it rain for me, like the rappers rap about. I broke even on rain. I have about a hundred copies of the book left. I recently met a new friend precisely because of my rain book. She is as eternal and analog as rain, although she must move like stereo in rain. Dire Straits is a remarkable rock band of rain. Bebop jazz is the music of rain. In the song “Raspberry Beret,” Prince sang:
The rain sounds so cool when it hits the barn roof
And the horses wonder who u are
Thunder drowns out what the lightning sees
U feel like a movie star
Prince is dead and there isn’t any rain in Purple Rain, but nevertheless he is still a prodigious man of rain with many more rain songs in the sacred sonic vault just waiting to leak out.
I miss Sonny, my beloved husky. I put her down after almost 17 years and countless moments of walking in rain together. During our last visit to the beach, 20 minutes before euthanasia, it rained. A few weeks later, I let her ashes loose upon the ocean; it rained that afternoon, and one day I will recognize when she falls upon me…as rain…and I will cry with joy.
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