We’ve had a few hefty storms in my area lately, which has been nice considering how few of those we’ve had prior to this last week. We needed the rain and I needed a chance to bask in the gentle susurrus of water falling on leaves as I sit in the mostly dry area beneath them. I also needed the comforting rumble of thunder echoing through the gray skies about as much as the area needed a return to proper summer water table levels. There’s a creek I walk by most days that has been low for so long all the signs of the “normal” water level disappeared a month ago.
The amount of rain we’ve been getting is a little worrying, though. It has been about three years since the area I live in was flooded pretty badly by an incredibly rainy August and I see a few unfortunate parallels between 2018 and 2021, in terms of weather patterns, but I can also say that this year’s weather predictions are entirely unreliable beyond the next twenty-four hours (thanks, climate change). I don’t really know what to expect, which can be frustrating.
Between the spectre of nightmarish flooding and the general anxieties of climate change, not to mention the horrible, cold winter I had in my drafty-ass apartment, I find it more and more difficult to enjoy the weather. As a kid, I fixated on weather patterns and storms the way other kids fixated on dinosaurs, cars, dolls, or trains (though I did also fixate on trains). As a result, I’ve got a lot of general weather knowledge and appreciation for a nicely formed cloud, the way the wind predicts the weather, and the way the sky color can tell you about the likelihood of rain and storms should the right wind and moisture conditions be met.
I still love watching the sky, rain or shine, cloudy or clear, and idly passing time as I appreciate the natural world that exists mostly outside our reach, hovering above us but still a part of us. I spend most of my time on my walks looking up and nothing but the cold or an unsafe storm will stop me from going on those walk through whatever the weather is when the mood takes me. I appreciate basking in the sun almost as much as I appreciate basking in the rain. But things aren’t as simple as they once were.
Like most things, my appreciation and knowledge of the weather grew more complex as I grew up. As I learned more about the world and the problems facing it. It can be difficult, these days, to enjoy the weather when I know the weird storm patterns and unpredictability of weather is due to climate change and ongoing climate disasters. It can be difficult to appreciate the crisp, cool air of a chilly evening when I know the winter will be harsh and expensive again in a way I never thought I’d experience with a comfortable home aorund me.
In my experience, the longer you life, the more difficult knowledge you accumulate. The better you understand the world, the more difficult it is to find peace and comfort in the things you once enjoyed. You can find knew things to appreciate, new comforts less complicated by difficult knowledge or perhaps even only available because of what you’ve learned, but old comforts become difficult.
It is rare, now, that I can simply appreciate a storm or a heavy rain. My mind is always filled with how rare these storms seem or how much rain seems to be pooling and collecting everywhere, so simply appreciating the quiet sound of rain on leaves and the empty grey sky above is a rare comfort.
Today, as I wrote this, my day was filled with gentle rain and storms. Tomorrow promises rain, and yesterday’s storms were so harsh I had to turn off my computer and find my candles so I would be prepared for a power outage. Even if I’ve failed most of the time and don’t expect to suceed, I still go out onto my porch or sit beneath the dense tree beside my building and try to find that moment of peace when everything fades away except the sights and sounds of the storm. If I can get it for even a moment, it will have been worth it.