Twenty-Six Ways of Looking at a Rainy Day

Dear Readers, I had great plans for the blog today, but the deluge started. As I sat in Costa Coffee and looked out at grey skies and slick pavements, I felt a bit down and hopeless. But then, I started to notice the effect that the rain had on everything, and so, with apologies to Wallace Stevens and his poem ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’, I’ve found 26 ways of looking at a rainy day.

1.Grey skies and rain make all the colours look brighter. The reds of the buses and the yellow of the AA van are almost startling. The traffic cones that Affinity Water have put along our road (lead water pipes have been discovered, oh joy) positively pop with brightness.

2. Raindrops form a constantly changing geometric pattern of interlacing circles and bubbles and tiny explosions.

3. Rain really highlights the terrain, the slopes and ridges and the long down-hill towards the tube station

4. The rain also highlights the places where vehicles have parked on the pavement, breaking the paving stones and creating the ideal home for miniature ponds and lakes.

5.People walk faster, but give one another little smiles and eye-rolls. ‘British summer, eh’. You can never go wrong with the weather. A month and a bit ago, we were all moaning about the heat. Today, I have the heating on. In August.

6.You can hear the shape of things by listening to the rain. I remember a radio programme where a chap who was blind said that he loved the rain, because he could ‘see’ the shape of the bushes and trees in the garden. I shall have to try that out, but I love the sounds of tyres in the rain, and the rain on the roof and the windowlights. In Cherry Tree Wood, you could hear the raindrops hitting the leaves.

7.Rain brings up all the smells – there is a word, ‘petrichor’ for earth after rain.  And I wish I could share the smell of these roses with you.

8. The rain brings out all the colours of the bark on the plane trees on the High Road, and the ornamental trees on the County Roads.

9. The rain paints the trees and houses, making it clear exactly where it falls.

10. The rain emphasises out the muscularity of the trunks of the hornbeam trees.

11. I love that some people ignore the rain, and go running anyway. In fact, when I used to run I loved the wet days most of all, the splashing through puddles and the splat of my footsteps, and the fact that I got soaking wet but was going to have a shower anyway.

12. In Taxi Driver, Robert De Niro talks about the way that the rain ‘washes all the scum off the streets’. He was talking metaphorically, but it does clean our streets up for sure. Look at how clean and new the nettles look after their bath.

13. I love that you can sometimes get a perfect reflection in a raindrop.

14. Reflections on a wet pavement are a whole other area of interest. Each car has its own upside-down double attached to its wheels. The awning at Tony’s Continental (the best greengrocer on the High Street in my opinion) looks even more splendid when reflected on wet paving stones.

15. The reflection of traffic lights on a wet surface blurs them romantically.

17. Where do the insects hide during the rain? A big raindrop can knock a butterfly off course or disrupt the busyness of a bee. As the rain (briefly) eased, all kinds of insects reappeared.

17.The rain doesn’t put the birds off, that’s for sure – the starlings bathe, and the crows are still looking for chips in the gutter outside the Kentucky Fried Chicken. I should tell them that their dietary habits are cannibalistic, but I doubt that they’d listen.

18.Some people have wonderful rainwear, like the lady completely encased in a yellow poncho who just popped into Costa Coffee. Practical and bright.

19.You see more grown-ups in Wellington Boots, and that’s not a bad thing. It always makes me think of the seaside.

20.Generally, people drive more slowly and carefully, as if suddenly aware that they are piloting a ton of metal through a world filled with creatures made of flesh and bone.

21 .My water butts will be full, ready for this ‘drought’ that we’re supposed to be having.

22. Leaves are both waterproof, and designed for rain to run off and fall where it’s needed, the soil beneath the plant.

23. The rain brings out the snails. And I have a great fondness for snails, in spite of their bad behaviour.

24. Walking in the rain when you don’t have to feels a bit anarchistic, but (whisper it) it can be fun. Children know this, we seem to have forgotten it. Best save any puddle-jumping for a quiet spot, though. I get enough funny looks as it is.

25. People walk closer together, sharing umbrellas, holding one another’s arms. We could all do with walking a bit closer together.

26. Tomorrow is meant to be dry and sunny. Let’s make the most of the rain while it’s here.

24 thoughts on “Twenty-Six Ways of Looking at a Rainy Day

  1. Fran and Bobby Freelove

    What an amazing post! We totally agree with you, we too love walking in the rain, there’s nothing quite as lovely as the smell of rain after a dry spell. We always notice that the birds are more active if it’s a rainy day, only problem is you can’t see quite so well through your binoculars 😁 We say every day is a lovely day if you look hard enough, and you certainly picked up on things that most people wouldn’t even notice.

    1. Bug Woman

      Thanks, Fran and Bobby. I know what you mean about the binoculars. I spent half the time I was out in the rain trying to keep my camera dry 🙂

  2. Gail

    I needed this. I’m afraid that after several weeks of mainly cool wet weather down here, I’d begun to yearn for consistent blue skies and warm sunshine – which now I’ve read your piece, seem less necessary (but I would like it to be warm enough not to put the heating on in the evenings…)

  3. Toffeeapple

    My Grandmother always said that rain looks worse from the inside of a window, so go outside and enjoy it. So I do, I love the rain.
    Such a happy post, thank you.

  4. Jane

    I agree with all the other comments. Rain is wonderful as long as it doesn’t go on too long. I liove the word petrichor I love the smell of earth after rain but hadn’t realised until I lived in France that it depends on the soil as our garden there didn’t smell at all like an English garden. Different soil composition perhaps? Walking in the rain when you know that you can get dry on return home is great especially in summer rain. Thanks for reminding us that there is joy to be found in everything if only we take the trouble to see it!

    1. Bug Woman

      That’s very interesting about the smell of the soil after rain, Jane – I’m sure you’re right about the soil composition, and maybe also the plants. Cameroon certainly smelt very different after rain than London does.

  5. Lynn D.

    Your photos and observations took my breath away. We hardly ever get rain in the summer where I live and I really miss it. Tonight there is a 50 per cent chance of rain and I know that I will be waking up every hour to listen for it. There was a chance of rain last night too, but alas, no. When I lived in Minnesota where it rained frequently in the hot summer, children and even adults would rush out to enjoy it. And for some reason earthworms would come out of the ground and drown on the sidewalks!

    1. Bug Woman

      Ah, Lynn, your comment makes me appreciate the rain even more – we often don’t really appreciate what we have until someone points out that they don’t have it :-). I think the burrows of the earthworms fill up with water and so they come to the surface so that they can breathe, whereupon the blackbirds and robins and seagulls take advantage….

  6. Katya

    Do you think it was the power of petrichor that helped wash away those ‘down and hopeless’ feelings you had in the cafe? What a mysterious sounding word! Sort of like the name of a very ancient god or goddess…perhaps with the shape of a traffic cone.

    1. Bug Woman

      I’m certain that it did, Katya…according to that source of all information, Wikipedia, the origin of petrichor is ‘ from Greek πέτρα petra, meaning “stone”, and ἰχώρ īchōr, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.’ So you are not far wrong in your guess 🙂

  7. Ann

    I loved your celebration of rain. One of my favourite songs is Singing in the Rain which I sing almost every time I’m out in the rain – it certainly is a ‘glorious feeling’. And petrichor, had I but known the word, is one of my favourite smells, along with freshly cut grass.


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