It has been a rainy week here in Illinois. My knee-jerk reaction to such days is to stay indoors and put off errands until the sun reappears. But when I do this, I am restless, forcing myself to stay inside when I really want to be outside. I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling because the minute the weather clears, people come out of hiding like ants out of the ground, and suddenly the streets are bustling with activity again.
Once, on a trip to Ireland, my husband and I learned you can pretty much expect to experience three seasons of weather every day. Each day began cold and windy, which was followed by rain. Then the sun would come out, and things would dry up and warm up. We learned to wear clothing in layers and to face each day prepared for everything. If we waited in our motel rooms for the weather to clear, we would have missed half our days. As we looked out our windows, we saw the locals just walked about in mist and rain as if it weren’t there and were not inconvenienced in any way. No one seemed to worry about rain giving them a bad hair day or making their shoes soggy. People just rolled with it. After a while, we did so too, and I have to say, being outdoors, exploring the world in all kinds of weather made things a bit more exciting and memorable. We visited an ancient fort in the Burren, in the rain, then headed inside to a museum where we were the only visitors. In the snack bar, we watched the rain while enjoying tea and a tray with samples of Irish cheeses and assorted fruit. A museum volunteer talked with us about our Irish family surname, and the day could not have been more perfect. On another day, we stood in the fog and mist, at the Cliffs of Moher, staring out at sea, imagining approaching ships of long ago, bringing friends and foes to Ireland’s shores. The weather added richness to the moment, and we wouldn’t have missed it for anything in the world.
I am also reminded of an even longer time ago when my family took a Florida vacation in April. It was not during spring break, so we had to have permission to take my daughter out of school. She was about 10 years old. Her teacher required that she keep up with her studies on the trip and write about her Florida discoveries. Nearly every day of that trip, heavy rains impacted our plans to spend time on sunny beaches collecting shells and working on our suntans. Instead, we found other opportunities, like a marine biology lab with a visitor’s center where my daughter got to pet a sea slug. Another day we happened upon what seemed like the world’s tiniest museum, where we learned about the man who invented air conditioning. I also met a wonderful woman in an antique shop who told me how to collect periwinkles (tiny edible sea snails) from the beaches and make them into soup.
Yet another happy rainy day memory of mine was from my own childhood. My brothers and I stayed with my grandparents in Iowa for a week during the summer. We were rambunctious kids, likely driving my grandparents crazy trying to find things for us to do. I remember it began to rain one afternoon, and grandma said if we wanted to play outdoors, it was fine. We were in shock. We’d never played in the rain before, but we took her up on her suggestion. Barefoot, we stepped out into the shower shivering, and squealing as the drops trickled down our backs. We delighted in feeling the sloshy grass and mud oozing between our bare toes and splashing in puddles. All told, we may have only played outside for 15 minutes. Still, I will never forget the smell of the rain, the little earthworms that wriggled across the sidewalk, or the feel of a nice dry towel wrapped around me when we came back into the house. I don’t remember much else from that visit, just the rain and the magical time it had offered.
Today more rain is forecast. I had intended to garden and think I will proceed with that plan. There surely will be a slight lull between showers in which I can sneak outside to stick some pansies and chives in pots. They will definitely benefit from the rain. Maybe I’ll even go out barefoot and walk through a puddle for old time’s sake.
(Note: In keeping with a rainy day theme, my latest book review is about Beatrice Alemagna’s, On A Magical Do-Nothing Day. Also, check-out How to Make a Pine Cone Weather Station under the Activities section.)