Rain has so far been a luxury in Kamloops. The smell of rain has always brought stories and memories of places and people.
On the coast, rain is as familiar as the air you breathe. You wake up in the morning, it’s there. Go by your day, in and out of the house, rain is there. Come nighttime…Well, it’s there. Yet though I lived in Vancouver for almost 14 years, I have not come close to disliking the rain, endless drizzle that it was at times.
Here though, rain is short and precious.
I never quite understood the grumbling about it either. Whether we grumble or not, rain falls until that last drop will be squeezed out of every grey cloud. Unless the wind picks up and scatters them like dandelion fluff in all directions.
The wind has been sweeping the skies for a couple of days now, and ever since the sky turned clumpy with clouds, I kept thinking rain is but a hill or two away. Not yet?
As if to taunt the sky, I put some laundry out this morning. Why not, if it’s all a big tease anyway. Then I went for a long run.
Half an hour later, the wait is over. A few drops to start with. The smell of rain-thirsty pavement and grass is thick and plenty. As if shy about taking over the air, rain picks up ever so slowly. The hills around are dressed in rainy fog and I know we’re next.
Full-on rain. How perfect. An invitation to press on, because you don’t just stop mid-run when rain starts.
The next five kilometers or so, rain comes from all directions and it has no intention of slowing. Plump drops land on my face and I like it. I’ve always liked rain, even more so because of its scarcity.
As I run, my mind splashes in all those memory puddles countless rains left behind.
I think of how so many times during my childhood I’d climb in one of my quince tree retreats and listen to the rain; seduced by the cascade of pitter-patter sounds and fascinated by the glistening trails of water drops left on the leaves.
I think of a camping trip up in the mountains where it rained almost icicles for days. It was early June. It was cold, but that rain made the trip memorable and did not stop me from subsequent ones.
I think of the boys relishing every rainy walk we had. The rain curtain would reveal a whole new world every time. Earthworms chased out of their dirt shelters by the water and perfect half-spheres of sparkling rain on leaves. We stopped for each of those.
“How does the water stay like that mom?” I have yet to meet a kid who, given the chance to observe rained-on leaves, would not stare in wonder. “Look, everything inside the water blob looks bigger.” If learning would happen like this, no kid would resent sciences. Neither would adults.
Many of those walks took twice as long and before we went back in we had to empty the boots. They were filled to the brim. From splashing as if that was the last rain ever. It wasn’t.
We camped in the rain many times and the sound of raindrops licking the tent fly made for a perfect late night tune. Plus it makes one quite good at starting a campfire with damp wood.
With all the rain today the ground is too dry for any puddles to form. It’s cold and the back of my hands feels numb.
A few minutes later, over Peterson Creek Park, the clouds are rolled to the sides to reveal a sky so blue it puts the very color to shame. The air turns balmy and I decide to keep running just to have some more of it. Warmth brings on its own magic touch.
By the time I get home sunshine glitter is all over the streets and the wind has weakened to a gentle swaying of the trees.
Later in the backyard, laundry is dry. Towards the east, dark clouds are stomping their long wet legs over the hills yet again. More rain to come perhaps. I take the laundry inside; taunting can only go so far on a day like this.
As if it reads my mind, the wind picks up and twirls dry petals high over the porch. Some make it into the house with me. The laundry smells of wind and sunshine.
A few hours later, in the west, some thin long clouds pile up over the horizon like tired pencils after a day of drawing in the sky. Their cloudy scribbles spreading all over the city will be drenched in orange sunset glow soon.
It’s been a beautiful sunset and we walk up the hill crest to see it all.
(Originally published as a column in the Saturday edition of the Kamloops Daily News on May 18, 2013)