junior from Westchester, Ill.
There’s something special in the evolution of a strong storm, especially after a drought.
The ominous clouds on the horizon, the ever-increasing wind, and the shifting restlessness of nature all come together to awaken a base emotion in me that seems to defy words.
My favorite part of a storm is the leading edge. There is something so incredibly powerful about watching a storm roll in, whether it’s from an outdoor viewpoint or the confines of a dorm room.
Sunny days are lively and alluring, but there’s another kind of beauty that beckons from bluish-gray clouds on the horizon.
I can always feel the feral part of me begin to panic slightly when the wind whips through my hair: Will I have shelter? Where are all my loved ones?
I remember a few summers ago I went on a bike ride along the abandoned roads of Wisconsin’s Northwoods. When I left the house there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was sunny and warm with mild humidity. I set off to tackle some hills that overlooked a nearby lake.
I was at my turn-around point when I finally sat back to stretch and looked up at the sky. I had been in my groove for the past hour and didn’t notice the clouds moving in. There was a dark front moving toward me from the east.
The first roll of thunder was my cue to start booking it. I knew I could not outride the storm, so I decided to try anyway.
The sky turned so dark the afternoon could have passed for late evening. I had to remove my sunglasses just to see where I was going. There had been a noticeable drop in temperature. I felt one raindrop, then another and then the sky let go.
The rain was coming down so hard and fast it turned the world around me into a strange palette of dancing, blurred colors. Water was rushing down the hills I had so myopically chosen to climb and I wondered if the torrents would sweep my wheels out from under me.
At the bottom of the hills, puddles were forming so fast and deep that they submerged my shoes every time I reached the bottom of my pedal stroke. I was flying on adrenaline, a huge grin on my face as the winds whipped around my bike and lightning flashed in the sky above. I finally came upon an abandoned barn near the side of the road.
I slammed on my brakes and ran for the cover of its dilapidated roof, grateful for the makeshift protection.
I waited until the rain died down before finishing the soggy trek home.
It’s this memory I always recall whenever I find myself in the middle of a storm (indoors or out). I remember the foreign feeling of drenched clothes, my shaking muscles and the smell of wet wood mixed with petrichor.
It might seem odd, but this memory relaxes me. It humbles me to know that I’ve been caught in weather that stopped me in my tracks. Alone in that barn, I marveled at the power of the downpour while I rung out my clothes and waited for the lightning to subside.
Sometimes rain can be annoying, especially when there’s something you want to do outside.
I know I grumble when I have to dig out my water-proof (ish) shoes and umbrella for the fifth day in a row (Really, Murray?).
I also know that I usually commiserate with my fellow students when a complaint is brought up regarding the seemingly incessant rain.
But maybe we’re just looking at it the wrong way. Rain does something strange to our moods. The passionate beginning of a storm might leave me with a racing heart, but the quiet drizzle that follows usually inspires introspection.
Try it sometime. The next time there’s rain moving in, turn off the TV and grab a friend. Run in the streets and laugh through the downpour.
Sit on the porch and see where the misty night takes the conversation. Rain isn’t something that should be endured; rather, it should be enjoyed.