Rain, rain …
We're a pluvial nation, apparently. As I write, it's raining again. Where other places suffer droughts, acid rain and other water worries, an abundance of H2O falls from our skies, greening our pastures and filling our aquafers. That's not to say we don't have droughts and drying rivers but often those are as much to do with over-ambitious farming practices on land that is new and fragile, as they are about the weather.
Lately, though, I'm finding it hard to be gracious about the rain. In spite of a hot summer, we've had more rain than usual, some of it destructive in floods and storms. And now it's raining again. I preface my conversation with, “I know it's futile to complain about the weather,” and go on to complain anyway.
As I walked up the steps from the waterfront, I met a father and four young children coming down. I heard the shrieks of the older two before I saw them: two boys about six years old were floating leaves down the steep gutter, screaming with delight at how they rushed away. Rugged up in jackets and beanies, they were on a break from being cooped up inside and to them the rain was fun.
“Quite an adventure,” I said to the father who was shepherding a smaller boy and girl down the rain-slick steps. “Doesn't take much,” he replied.
Carrying on to the top, I looked out over the harbour, more able to appreciate the damp atmosphere, the way birdsong carried clearly in the rain, the billowing piles of soft grey cumulo-stratus and the line of light at the horizon.
I can remember taking my own children out to break the monotony of a rainy day. We each had an umbrella and gumboots for stomping in puddles. My daughter, two years old and plodding along like a fieldmouse under a toadstool, was caught by a gust of wind and upended in a puddle. Her tears, but not her clothes, were dried by continuing on to the dairy to buy some sweets.
I enjoyed an umbrella walk of my own recently, returning from a series of eye tests which involved drops to dilate my pupils. I'd been advised not to drive and as I walked back along the river with raindrops drumming on the umbrella I enjoyed the rushing water, the ducks and the bird song, I resolved not to always take the car when it rains.
But essentially I'm a fair weather friend, that is, I much prefer a sunny day. My spirits lift and I get out in the garden, planning projects to improve it, digging and weeding. Or I sit under my plum tree with a book, my head in the shade and my legs stretched out in the sun. It seems a bit shallow to have my mood so dependant on the weather, but there it is.
My friend in Dunedin was made of hardier stuff. Undaunted by the weather she would work in her garden on wet days, in a plastic jacket and sou'wester hat, because if it was fine she preferred to be in the mountains. I joined her on a mountain once, trotting to keep up with her long strides. When we reached the snowline she instructed me in how to climb up – Kick and step! Kick and step! I could barely lift my legs, let alone kick, and she wouldn't hear of me staying behind, so I followed her steps up to the summit. I'm glad I did, it is the highest point in the district and the 360 degree view made me feel as though I were flying.
Too many sunny days can become boring too, I remind myself, though I haven't that luxury just yet. Towards the end of summer I'm always glad to see the rain, but for now I will try to see the best in it, knowing that even in winter fine weather will come along.