Sun, sun, go away: The pleasures of a rainy day

The rain has started early and gently, and by the time I'm fully awake, it's steady. Through the open bedroom window I'm also hearing the splishing around resistant rubber as car after car pulls away from the curb and heads off down the street. It's a day off for me, so I can lie at length and listen guiltlessly.

The rainfall later swells into a percussive splatter on the chestnut leaves outside my living-room window while I am eating breakfast and checking my e-mail. One of the two bay windows won't open, so I'm already feeling shut in, with the weather happening outside.

By midmorning, I simply must get that other window open. A friend kindly responds to my telephoned plea, coming by under a big pink umbrella. There's nothing really wrong with the window. It just needs four hands - two to release the sliding locks at the top of the frame and two more to heave the window up while the locks are held.

Now, with both bay windows wide open, I'm embraced by a damp, cool breeze that swirls through the entire room. The air outside becomes the air inside. Nothing separates me from atmospheric reality. I can finally get to work at the computer.

Come lunch time, the rain has been driving steadily down for almost an hour. I've been writing and enjoying the immediacy of the sound, like a thrumming guitar ostinato. But I suddenly realize I that am also hearing the stodgy patter of water on wood. The wind has shifted without my noticing, and the rain has slowly been making puddles inside as well as out.

I get up to close the window to windward - the one so recently unstuck - but first I gaze out on the trees. The slender branches are held down by the sheer weight of falling water. Almost parallel to the tree trunks, they sway lazily against each other. The leaves nod in sodden green clusters.

Regretfully, I lower the window. Then I get a towel to dry the window ledge and floor. Once more, of necessity, I'm enclosed and a mere spectator.

By midafternoon, the rain has stopped. I open the windows again and leave them, even though it's grown almost chilly - and strangely silent. After a while, a new sound emerges. With each car that traverses the block, I hear a slow buildup of water propelled by front tires. Then at a place just outside my windows, a wavelet breaks with a prolonged splashing to both sides of the narrow street.

Since I'm ready for a timeout and stretch anyway, I walk down two flights to the street. But I really want to see why the "surf's up" beneath my windows. There's a small declivity across the width of the street just outside my front windows - not enough to slow the passing cars, but adequate to catch the rainwater and then toss it back.

By late afternoon the clouds have thinned and an intrusive sun is threatening to poke through the overcast. Please go away, I tell it. Thanks to the rain, this has been one of those rare "inside" days with no compulsion to go out and "do things."

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