Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Walking in the Rain


I had a million things to do on Sunday morning, but chose instead to go for a long walk in the rain.

I was supposed to go grocery shopping, but reckoned we could eat from the pantry for another day.

I was supposed to clean the bathrooms but knew they would still be there in the evening, when it was too dark to walk.

I was supposed to tidy the living room and dining room but reckoned that, like the bathroom, they would wait.

That's the thing about "to do" lists:  They're patient.  They'll always still be waiting for you when you get around to them.

Rainy Sunday mornings will not.

The skies were a uniform, flannel grey and the rain a steadily falling curtain when I left.  The sound of tires swishing on wet pavement provided background to the music of rain pattering on pavement and splashing in puddles.  The flow of rainwater in the gutters sang the same song a stream bed does as water finds its way downhill.

The wind, forecast to be very strong in the afternoon, was already picking up.  Trees were beginning to sway, and my neighbours, heeding the wind warning published on the weather station that day, were busy taking down hanging baskets and carrying light objects from their lawns and patios indoors.

Few people were on the streets.  It was a good time for solitude, and for noticing small details. 

At a house near mine, near-ripe grapes hung abundantly on vines trellised up a white stucco wall.  Sheltered by leaves, the grapes were not completely slicked with water but each wore perfect, round droplets that acted as tiny lenses, reflecting the garden in miniature vignettes.  It was like viewing the world through a thousand tiny crystal balls.

Cottonwood leaves, dry and skittery the day before, clattering across the streets at every breath of breeze, now lay plastered to the pavement, their bright outlines contrasting the dark concrete, the clear water's meniscus swelling against the sharp edges of each leaf.

A congress of crows gathered on the telephone lines at the intersection, their necks drawn in against the wet, as if debating whether to make the effort to pluck the ripe walnuts from a tall tree or to seek shelter within its foliage.

A soaking wet woodpecker busily mined the trunk of a birch tree, his feathers soaking wet and ruffled by the rain, so intent upon his search for a meal that he let me step within four feet of where he worked.

At the lake, raindrops hit the water with such force that they pocked its surface, each drop causing concentric ripples that, in their path outward, collided with the ripples made by other drops; an endless, entrancing, constantly shifting geometry.

Red wing blackbirds sheltered among bullrushes, as still as these active birds ever seem to be. Even in the driving rain they were not at rest for long.  They still flitted back and forth from reed to reed, resting a few moments here and there, their heads turning constantly, bright yellow eyes regarding the silvery world around them.

A small girl dressed in a bright turquoise rain coat, pink-polka-dotted boots, and a brand new rainbow umbrella, walked with her patient grandfather, plotting her path from puddle to puddle, jumping in each one and laughing in delight.

Even with my rain gear and a brand new umbrella, I was soaked through by the time I got home.  But refreshed.  Calmed.  Restored.

I'd "lost" two hours from my day and had no hope of finishing all the chores on my list, but some things are more important than turning "to do" into "to done."  

We are, after all, human beings, not human doings.