Sunday, June 13, 2010

Forest rain

In the forest, rain is almost magical. It tumbles down through a mass of green leaves and tree branches and undergrowth, filling the spaces with a whimsical energy. A hundred different hues and tones glow with their own light in this new water-soaked world, lush and energized and begging to be explored.

It was on one such day almost a year ago when I felt that pull to be out in the rain. It was the kind of rain that is too alive to ignore, too frivolous not to go out and play.

I watched the first drops fall as I looked out the window into the trees. It wasn’t long before the initial sprinkle became a more insistent, more determined clatter on the roof, then before my eyes it deepened to a torrential downpour, becoming almost a living thing moving through the forest. Out in the open, over the road, it was a white sparkling shower and I scrambled to pull on my rain gear.

The dogs watched eagerly as I got ready, as excited as I was to be outside. They clamoured forward to get my attention and I felt envious of them. Besides getting Max into his wheelchair, the dogs were ready to go. They didn’t need raincoats and rain pants or umbrellas or boots. Suddenly I felt rather cumbersome.

Outside the rain came down in great sheets from the sky. It pattered on the hood of my raincoat and gathered in glassy globs along the front edge, before letting go and dripping past my nose towards the ground.

Bear, Max and Murdoch gathered around me as we stepped from our driveway to the road. Water beaded on their fur, sparkling as though they had dressed up for the occasion. We stopped on the road and I turned to look the length of it while the dogs ate grass and licked rainwater from the spade-shaped leaves of weeds at the edge of the ditch. I couldn’t really see much farther than twenty feet ahead. It was like trying to look through an opaque curtain.

The rain wasn’t hard-driving, but it fell fast and each drop so close together, one right after another, they seemed to fall in rods directly from the sky to the ground with no breaks in between. But it was a bright rain, the day did not darken with ominous clouds blocking every scrap of light from the hidden sun. The very air shimmered with a grey, silvery light reflected from a thousand drops of falling water. In the distance, vague, dark shapes gave the only indication of trees that marched the length of the road to the trail at the end.

We walked through the warm, heavy, summer rain. My rubber boots squelched over the dark brown, saturated road. Inside my hood, the swishing of my rain pants and arms of my coat were amplified while the sound of the dogs’s feet blended in with the chatter of the rain as it hit the road. I could just make out the squeak of Max’s wheelchair as it rolled along beside me.

The four of us wandered down that road as if we were on a grand adventure. A shared giddiness bounced between us, encircled us, and reflected back from the rain.

The day smelled like spring, the air scrubbed clean by the heavy, fast-falling raindrops and we moved through it as though seeing everything for the first time. On the trail amongst the trees we were sheltered a little by reaching branches packed with leaves. The vibrant greens shivered with the rhythm of raindrops falling, collecting on their surface and then running to the edge and pouring over the side.

Beneath the forest canopy the dogs stopped to drink out of every puddle and ripped mouthfuls of fresh grasses from where they grew along the side of the trail. I wandered slowly along the path which had become soft underfoot, breathing deeply of earthy green and crisp pine scents. For a moment it felt as though the world had orchestrated the day just for us as we moved through the damp air and mingled with the rain-enhanced spirit of the forest.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting and vivid departure from the usual track of your writing - the rain and how it transforms both the forest and you becomes the central focus. You make a sensory appeal here and I am able to feel this enveloping rain as it encases you and your dogs in its wet grasp. Your detailed description floods all our senses: tactile [soft path, damp air], auditory [boots "squelched", rain chattered], sight [rain as "rods", dark trees "marching"], smell ["earthy green and crisp pine scents"]. These concrete details underscore your renewed vision -you, and the dogs, see "everything for the first time." You once again have the capacity for experience we sometimes feel only as a child. It's too easy for the adult to lose the child in him or herself. You always have something to say, Heather. I enjoyed the reflective energy here - this is not merely falling rain but life recaptured, revitalized. I like the affirmation here. As final remark, the rich intro photograph perfectly reinforces the comment of this passage. Suffice to say that both your pen and your camera work quite well together.