When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.
When I was in college, I sang with a madrigal group, madrigals being secular vocal music compositions from the Renaissance and early Baroque periods. Our repertoire included John Dowland’s “Flow My Tears,” songs by Orlando di Lasso and Thomas Morley’s “April Is in My Mistress’ Face” and “It Was a Lover and His Lass.” “When That I Was and a Little Tiny Boy” from Twelfth Night came to mind today—perhaps it’s this never-ending rain.
My relationship with rain is somewhat complex. I find it cleansing, restorative, healing. I enjoy a brisk walk in the rainy woods with autumn leaves shushing underfoot. But I don’t like to get wet and not be able to dry off–got pneumonia like that in high school.
When I was a kid, my mom, brother and I would visit relatives in Wisconsin during the summer. One of my favorite things was jumping through sprinklers in my bathing suit on a hot summer day with the neighborhood kids. When it rained we’d run from one neighbor’s lawn to another, still jumping through. A simple joy.
As I’ve grown older, my relationship with rain has deepened. In 2011 our house got flooded by Hurricane Irene. We don’t live in the flood zone, but we got hit anyway.
Rochelle Park, NJ, August 2011 (photo-E. Herd)
For a while after that, heavy rains would induce panic in me, fears of more flooding. Sometimes I thought the windows would smash in from the gale force winds. In more fantastical reveries, Tinkerbell would swoop into the bedroom, sprinkle fairy dust on me, Lorin and the cats, and we would fly away with Peter Pan.
This morning I waited about fifteen minutes in the freezing rain with my bus stop buddies, and we boarded the usual NJ Transit bus into the city. It took about an hour and a half and the heat wasn’t on—it felt like we were outside. It was an adventure of sorts, but not as much fun as jumping through sprinklers or soaring through the sky with Peter Pan.