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…