I actually quite like storms and rain, so long as I don’t have to go outside. It’s kind of like a free pass to stay in your pyjamas. If I can be safely tucked indoors, warm and dry, not forced out into the cold and wet, struggling to keep my umbrella from falling on its sword, then it’s a good day.
Sadly, today is not one of those days. It is raining but I have to go to work and the gym so there will be no all-day pyjamas for me. In fact, I’m already kitted up in my gym gear for when the time comes to brave this now terrible weather (note: it’s only terrible because I have to leave the house). I would like nothing more than to stay indoors, peering at the world through fogged up windows. But alas, it is not to be.
Rainy or stormy days tend to bring out a kind of nostalgia in me. Primarily, they remind me of a childhood memory I have of my mother. Rain has always had quite a strong presence in my life. It’s something that has the potential to make or break your day, your plans, your mood and so it tends to leave a big impression when it swoops in with its curtains of water and bustling wind.
In Jamaica, they only really have two seasons: hot and wet and cool and dry. But “cool and dry” just meant that it was mid to low 20s instead of mid to high 30s. And you maybe needed a light jacket or cardigan of a night time (or during the day if you were someone like me who gets cold all the time). When it rains it Jamaica, it doesn’t fuck around. It rains. One minute you’re dry, next minute you’re drenched, soaked to the bone.
This was not a good thing if you needed to take public transport home as often the drivers wouldn’t let wet school kids on the bus. “Public transport” in Jamaica, or at least the area where I lived, was only public in the sense that the public used it to get from A to B. The buses were actually privately owned so the drivers and their representatives, the conductors or “ductas”, were free to pick and choose who they let on their bus. Good luck drying off enough to get home. You usually just had to kamikaze it onto the bus and get so deep down the back that they either didn’t notice you or couldn’t be bothered with the argument to get you out.
Another thing I remember is the way the rain sounded when it hit the roof. We had a zinc roof with a concrete base and the rain would pound onto it with a strange tinny sound, very intense and deep. I find that nowadays I only hear the rain when it hits the windows or if it’s very, very heavy. In Jamaica, it was a very real presence, a dull roar all around you, outside and above you, and then just flooding out of the sky in white sheets of water.
It was so heavy that sometimes you could hardly see the trees that surrounded the house. We lived at the bottom of a big hill so you could literally watch the water pour down the hill, around the house and then continue down the hill out the back. Mum had to build tiers into the garden to keep the water from washing all the soil away. Yet, without fail, at the end of a big downpour, there’d always be carnage; stones to be picked up and put back in place, small plants washed away.
I dislike the rain when it inconveniences me but, when it doesn’t, I can appreciate it. It keeps the plants and animals alive. It keeps us alive. It makes things clean and new again. There’s beauty in that. It’s just a bit hard to see it when your socks are wet, your hair’s frizzy and you forgot your umbrella.
Image credit: Deanna Wimberly