A Steady Rain

Last night I sat for a while and watched the rain. It was pouring, windows coated with water, light gray clouds covered the city. You could hardly see the trees on the hills in the northwest part of town, at times you couldn’t see them at all. It was cold, at least cold for me, but I found myself ignoring that as I stared out the windows watching the falling rain.

Normally the rain is a real annoyance to me. It is difficult to walk anywhere, so it becomes a struggle rather than an event to notice, as it became last night. How often have you passed by a building or noticed an often-occurring event for the very first time? That was my thought as I was watching the rain drench this city last night.

The experience reminded of a short story Anthony Doerr wrote in the Summer 2014 issue of Granta. He said he was driving his twin sons home from their football practice one day, when he turned down the road to his home and noticed an old log cabin for the very first time, one that he had passed by countless times before.

It’s a log cabin with a swaybacked roof and a low door, like a cottage for gnomes. A little brick chimney sticks out of its shingles Three enamel signs stand on the south side; a stone bench hunkers on the north.

This took him on a flight back to the log cabin’s beginning in what is now 21st Century Boise, Idaho, his hometown. In 1863 a man by the name of John rode his horse into Idaho Territory and put down his tent by a creek. His wagon was full of tools and he was in love with a woman back in Colorado, born in Ireland. For years he was a sailor, sailed around the world and now he was a prospector.

John unpacked his wagon and began to build the cabin, cutting the logs, clearing the ground, all the while waiting for the woman in Colorado. In time Mary arrived. It took her four months to reach what was then Fort Boise.

The cabin had a dirt floor but over the years a wood floor, oven and bathroom were added. The cabin became a house with glass windows, lawn sprinklers, and began to take on its current form in what is now Boise Idaho, the capital of the state of Utah.

Doerr concludes: What lasts? Is there anything you made in your life that will still be here 150 years from now? …What does not last, if they are not retold, are the stories. Stories need to be resurrected, revivified, reimagined; otherwise they get bundled with us into our graves…


Stefanie said...

I love watching the rain fall. Isn't it a weird moment though, an odd feeling, when you really notice something for the first time that has been there for ages? It's exciting but I also feel astonished and humbled because why didn't I see it before?

Richard Katzev said...

I've started to look more closely at the places I pass by every day and I've realized how much I've not noticed before. Who watches closely the falling rain? I never did before, never really "attended" to it like I did the other night. And now I will do it again. We don't often look closely at the passing scenes.

Anonymous said...

Here is the Mideast we welcome every drop of rain. We pray for rain and some of us dance in the streets when it starts to shower. I love sitting inside and watching the drops as they collect on the window and on the parched streets.
What a joy.
Richard , continue to enjoy mindful "looking" at all that we sadly take for granted.

Richard Katzev said...

You are much of the West are praying for rain. I wish we could send you half of what we need in the far Northwest. It rained steadily for three full weeks and only now do we have a reprieve. It will be brief, however.

I am a looker, an observer. The Observer was the title of a recent book of mine. It is striking how much I miss and how much I notice when I begin to look more closely.

Thank you for your comment.

Linda said...

I love watching the rain, too. I love the sound of it. Although I don't know if I would love it so much if we got as much of as as you do, Richard.

As I get older, I find myself paying more attention to ordinary, everyday scenes and events - the feeling of a heavy fog, a snowfall - they seem so much more beautiful now.

Why is that?

Richard Katzev said...

Perhaps it comes with more associations, as you get older? You have more memories that the scenes remind you of? It is foggy this morning in Portland, a dense fog covers the city, visibility is limited. A foggy day in London town.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

And now it is sunny for a change. What a relief. Chilly yes, but sunny. We once had a dog called Sunny, a golden retriever, still my favorite breed.

It doesn't snow much in Portland, although when I first moved here, we had deep snow every winter. And it was much colder.

The climate is changing as they say. The signs are everywhere. The only question now is are they short-or-long term changes.