Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rain: Our Damp Friend (A Primer)

In Portland every year about this time, it starts to rain. And it doesn't stop until May. Oh sure, we might have a day here and there where it doesn't rain. And even one or two where the sun pops through the clouds and and we glimpse the blue sky. But more often than not, when you go outside, it will be raining.

And when there's rain, there will be people complaining about rain. I'm all for complaining about rain. But let's pace ourselves people. We've got a few months of this weather ahead of us. Save the whining for Easter morning, when the egg hunt is moved indoors. Or Spring Break, when you're freezing and drenched on the beach. Or on Memorial Day when you're grilling steak under an umbrella.

We have plenty of time to complain. Now is the time to embrace the rain. After all, rain is our thing. We're the ones who can stick it out at Disneyland during a drizzle when everyone else runs for cover. We don't let rain stop us. We exercise in the rain, shop in the rain and garden in the rain. We own rain.

If you are new to Portland, or new to rain, or are simply ready to file a formal complaint with Mother Nature, here are a few tips to help you have a rain paradigm shift.

Accessorize for it       
Start your new love affair with rain with an awesome umbrella. Do not use a black, boring umbrella. This is the first rain-relationship mistake. How are you supposed to use an ugly umbrella without getting depressed? Go find yourself a unique, exciting, totally-you umbrella. Something like this little lady to the right. Cute, isn't she? I have a Monet umbrella. It cost a little more than the ugly black one, but every time I get to use it is a treat.   

Rain boots are another must-have accessory for the rainy season. Let's face it. Most of us aren't going to be trudging through puddles all day, but a cute pair of rain boots are still acceptable and fun rain accessories.
You can't get away with wearing something like this any old time. No. It needs to be wet, or people will think you're weird. (Which, as it happens, is a-okay in Portland, but that's a whole other post.)

You can head over to Fred Meyer and pick up some groovy boots for a few bucks, or you can look around online and find something truly amazing. Something that is going to make you start wishing it would rain.

That's the kind of boot we're looking for.

Name it
It is said that Eskimos have over 500 words for snow.* Well, Portlanders have a lot of words for rain. There's showers, drizzle, freezing rain, mist, heavy mist, sprinkles, slurry, wintry mix, slush. I could go on ** but you get the idea. Listen to the weather forecast on the nightly news and see if you can understand what kind of rain they're talking about. Or, you could amuse yourself with how the weatherman jazzes up the same forecast from the last 4 weeks to make it sound like something new. It's fun. Try it.

Go out in it
Don't be afraid. It's just water. It dries. And no one's paying attention to your hair cause we're all focused on our own dreadful messes. Pull on those boots and grab that umbrella and go to the zoo. There's never a better time to go than when it rains. It's like you have the whole place to yourself. Or, go downtown, or to the grocery store. Wherever you want. Don't stop living your life because of a little water.

Listen to it
One morning, lay in bed all cozied up in your covers, and listen to the rain. It's amazing. People buy machines that make this noise and we get it for free. For. Free! Enjoy it. Relax.

Watch it
Have you ever watched the rain pouring down? Bouncing off the street? Rushing down the gutters? Sheeting off roofs? Dripping down windows? Making endless circles in a pond? Beading up on a bare branch? Soaking a crazy runner? Rooster-tailing off the tires of a car as it drives down the street? Come on. What are you waiting for?

Justify it
Rain is better than snow because you don't have to shovel it. It doesn't pile up. And if it's raining, you know it's at least 33 degrees, which means it's not freezing, which means it's warm. (I understand 33 is considered shorts weather in places like Alaska and Minnesota.) Rain doesn't hang around and turn brown and grey like snow. It cleans things. It smells good. It turns things green instead of killing them.

I'm sure you could come up with a few more reasons why rain is awesome. If you try.

Don't fight the rain. Welcome the rain. Soon you might even find yourself complaining when the sun actually does appear, bouncing light off the wet pavement directly into your eyes, temporarily blinding you until you rummage through the glove box and find your sunglasses.

Oh, who am I kidding. You're never going to find your sunglasses.

Welcome to Portland. Welcome to rain.

*I just made this up.
** No I couldn't.


Unknown said...

This is one of my all-time favorites of your posts! You nailed it!!! I went shopping to three different stores today, and had two doctor's appointments. I am wet. My hair is a mess. And I've got to go back out in it to find a snazzy umbrella and some rockin' boots. I think I'll just sit here for awhile and listen to the rain instead. That shopping trip can wait until tomorrow. :D

Unknown said...

That post above (or below) was from me, Afton. Sorry I forgot to sign my name.


Tricia said...

Love it! Thanks for helping us keep things in perspective Afton. Ditto Shelli, except I've got to go back out in it...oh well, it sounds awesome on the store roofs too :)

beadiemom said...

Very awesome post, Afton, and a great reminder! Although it does seem like we enjoy complaining about the weather no matter what it is.

I must admit, the heavy rain of this week is rather unusual for us--usually it just drizzles or rains lightly all day. I don't particularly enjoy being soaked to the skin whilst doing my Thanksgiving shopping. But I can handle the drizzle until late spring, when it's starting to get old.

I can't wait to see your post about what makes "keep Portland weird" the motto of our city.

a said...

Okay, I now have a new favorite writer! Afton Nelson! You deserve my Oscar for best writer ever! Sell this one!

Carol said...

I totally love this!! Pace yourselves . . . haha! Now that's just fantastic writing! And convincing too! :)

Angela said...

I wish it would rain here right now.

Senia said...

Where are you going to get this published? Because you need to!

Heather said...

Ah hahaha! I love this one. :) Very true and funny, although I thought true North Westerners don't own umbrellas... ;)

Anna said...

That's a good point about NWers not using umbrellas. I never had one the entire time I lived there (20ish years). Nor did I ever have rain boots. Or a rain jacket or a any kind of jacket with a hood. At least I never wore the hood.

Maybe I embraced the rain a little too much.

Chelsea said...

Brilliant Afton! Love it!

jj said...
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Jeffrey said...

You forgot to mention making miniature dams with leaves and rocks in the gutter as the water searches for a storm drain. Kids know - they don't even need the boots or the umbrella to have fun in the rain.

It just goes to show how very early dementia sets in.

That's cause I'm good with a Lego said...

love it. It rains a lot here in Ohio. You just kinda gotta get over it b/c it makes everything green which is lovely. Too bad we still get snow :(