Puddle Watching

posted in: Day In The Life 6
rainy day wiki
Rainy day. Image: Wikipedia, who else?


It’s been raining and raining this week.

As I walked through rainy city yesterday (and the day before, and the day before), my thoughts were swirled up in the sounds of the cars swooshing through the streets and the pat-pat-pat-pat of the rain over everything. My brow was furrowed (and wet) as I dodged puddles and tried to squinch myself under my umbrella to keep my purse from catching the runoff. Whether you’re a writer or not, rain is what you call “evocative.” It evokes, or brings to mind, much. Here are three things that came up for me:

Puddle Duck
I live in Chicago, downtown, pretty far up in my mid-rise building. In the city, surrounded by skyscrapers and other mid-rise buildings, it can be hard to tell if it’s raining if the rain isn’t hitting your window and streaming its way down the glass, which it rarely does. (In fact, if rain is coming at the buildings sideways, the storm is bad enough that you’ve probably been aware you’re experiencing inclement weather for awhile.) So while it’s true that no matter where you live, rain can be weirdly invisible if you look up at the sky or deep into the open horizon, in the city, if you haven’t checked with the weatherman, it’s particularly hard to tell if you need your umbrella before you go out.

So I look down at the puddles on the street.

Way far down, I can see if the puddles are blip-blopping as a result of the rain hitting them. If the puddles are spattering and dancing around, it’s raining; if they’re still, it’s not.

Maybe everyone does that. No one ever taught me to do it, though, so whenever I check the puddles for rain, I feel very … I feel like I’m surviving, like I might actually be the kind of person who could read signs in nature and live another day. It’s got something to do with my ancestors, maybe. Maybe they watched puddles for rain. It might sound silly, but it’s this small, nice thing in my life.

Wet Menace
When the rain kept coming, I thought about my incredible brother-in-law, Jack, whose father (and Jack and my sister Rebecca, in turn) dealt with terrible, ruinous flooding in his home downstate. Illinois experiences bad flooding when the rain won’t stop and I wondered about people not so far away from me who were totally derailed from X, Y, and Z because the basement flooded, or the basement flooded again, or the mold got worse.

I thought about how rain is so beautiful and important, but that if it doesn’t stop, it’s a menace. (My post on Houston was not so long ago.) It’s so terribly heartbreaking and confusing when what you like becomes a weapon; when what makes you feel good and excited becomes a frightening force. Rainshowers are supposed to bring May flowers.

Noisli, I Love Thee
There’s a thing I love. It’s called Noisli. You could call Noisli a “white noise website,” though that’s my term; they might call it something else. You get to program your very own white noise blend to fit what you are doing, e.g., working, writing, resting, etc. There are pre-made blends for productivity, for relaxation, and so on.

Guess what kinds of sounds you can play?

Distant thunder. Light rain. Heavy rain. Stormy sounds. And nothing — nothing — gets me more focused, in the mood, and generally more okay in every way than the sounds of a thunderstorm in the distance/outside my window. Noisli makes that happen and I’ve been writing so much lately, I’ve been doing a lot of stormy sound effects stuff. Really, you could say it’s raining all the time around here, and that’s good right now.

Note: No one paid me to say that, but Noisli, be my guest: I’ve got tuition and property taxes to pay in the next two weeks and I have a feeling there are a few of my readers who will adore your brilliance. Just sayin! I accept donations!