Only When It Rains

While subzero temperatures hammer the snowy Midwestern United States, I get up every morning glad that I’m not there. My sister reported -37 Celsius (-34 F) and the pipes froze in the new home of a friend who posted devastating pictures of the damage on Facebook. Schools were closed for two days because of severe weather.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re tough Minnesotans and they almost like it, don’t cha know! But after a while it gets to even the most stalwart among them. Except my dad. I’ve never heard him complain about anything. Ever.

The lotus pond planter overflows

The lotus pond planter overflows in the back garden

Rain pours off the roof in the front garden

Rain pours off the roof in the front garden

So I’m not complaining about the rain, really, I’m not. After all, it’s warm, and its making things even more impossibly green than before. But it’s frequent, and it’s torrential.

If you live in a house in cold climates, you have walls, windows, and insulation. If it rains, chances are it’s cold. You batten down the hatches and go about your business inside.

I have no glass in my windows. My house is three-sided with the fourth open to nature. When it pounds down as hard as it did today, I can’t hear myself think. So I run about with the camera trying to capture the wildness of it. Or I make a huge bowl of popcorn, plug in headphones, and watch Orange is the New Black – as many episodes as it takes.

And then…

when there’s nothing left to do, no escape, I write a poem to express what I’m feeling in the moment, not so much by the story, but by the way I tell it.


“Do you miss them?” she asked,
lines of concern creasing her forehead.
A leaf sashayed to earth.
Darkness in the west
rumbled a warning.
She waited for my answer,
her cigarette curling plumes of smoke
upward in the thick, still, air.
Do I miss whom, I wondered.
My family?
She flicked an ash over the rail, still waiting.
She was random like that.
Her questions seldom hooked into
any previous conversation.
I liked that about her.
It left options.
I could choose the meaning I wished,
she didn’t care.
Hanging out with her made me feel
and silly,
and a little sad.
“Not usually,” I said,
brushing a strand of wet hair off my face.
“Only when it rains.”
Rain making a waterfall down the temple steps

Rain creates a waterfall down the temple steps

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