Today is a gray and rainy day. This is the kind of day that, when I was a kid, would leave me groaning and feeling sorry for myself because it meant being cooped up inside, instead of going out to play or have adventures. I suppose there is something to be said about exploring a world gone gray and wet. Walking under an umbrella can be a bit magical, as the material filters the weak sunlight, enclosing you in a wonderfully colorful make-believe world. Needless to say, I don’t see the point in using an umbrella made of “basic black”. What’s the fun in that? Also, it’s important not to discount the enjoyment of splashing through puddles. Few things in life are as fun and as satisfying. In spite of those little wonders, rainy days of my childhood meant cancelled recess at school, no trips to the park, and having to figure out a way to entertain myself for hours.
As I got older, after we had moved to the country, rainy days meant a lot of extra work wiping down horses and covering feed and hay, all done with the accompanying odor of “wet dog”. I love dogs, and, even as a kid, wouldn’t have traded my loyal pooch for any human companion. Even so, few smells stick in the memory quite like that of a dog that has been out frolicking in the rain and mud.
It’s funny how time changes things. As we grow and learn and age, our perspectives shift a bit, too. Maybe this happens to accommodate the things we experience and the people we encounter along the way. Maybe it’s a natural sort of evolution — part of growing from childhood, through adolescence, and into adulthood. Or, perhaps it’s a factor of meeting ourselves, here and there, throughout the years.
Whatever the reason for it, I find I quite like rainy days now that I am firmly entrenched in my middle adulthood. Truthfully, middle age often feels more like a second childhood than anything else. There are days when I can’t wait to get outside in the rain. I laugh as I twirl beneath the gray sky, my face lifted up to feel the droplets falling onto my skin. And I am convinced no kid ever managed to stomp through a puddle with more enthusiasm than I can summon up for this activity. It’s fun to grab my flowered umbrella and dash out and about on a drippy, gray day. I love the way the sunlight just manages to squeeze through my umbrella, lighting it up just enough so that I can pretend I’m walking beneath my own, personal sky filled with flowers. It never fails to put me in a good mood. Sometimes, I even giggle a little bit, which usually earns me more than a few strange looks. Nothing is more suspicious than a chubby, middle-aged woman giggling like a loon on a rainy day. It’s the stuff of which epic poems are made. Or, at the very least, a limerick or two.
Sometimes, though, I don’t want to head out into the rain, and that’s quite all right with me, too. Unlike the petulant, bored child I was in my wayward past, I savor my self-imposed solitude. It’s a time for curling up on the sofa with my dogs to watch a favorite movie. It’s a time for reading that book I’ve put aside for too many days in a row as I struggle to accomplish everything on my massive to-do list. It’s a time for thinking and tea. It’s a time for writing — letting go of the world around me so that the words can flow.
At other times, rainy days provide quiet moments for listening. I sit at my table or my desk, and the rain patters down onto the roof. Cars go by on the street outside my window, and their tires make a soft shush-shush sound as they pass. My dogs sigh as they settle into their beds or curl up at my feet. The wind rustles the leaves of my cherry tree, scattering droplets against the window panes. This is when I know what it means to be safe and warm. I feel cozy and cheered by the simple fact that life has its golden moments, and I am blessed to be living through one of them right now.