I Love a Rainy Walk

Rainy-Book

My sweetheart and I got caught in a downpour while we were in San Antonio.  We had been attending separate conference meetings all day when we just happened to bump into each other in one of the noisy and crowded hallways of the hotel where the event was being held.  We looked at each and said, “Let’s get out of here and see the city.”

As we walked outside to catch a taxi, deep dark clouds were just beginning to gather near us to the west of the hotel.  Our goal was to walk the city’s famous (and obviously outdoor) Riverwalk and we considered the possibility that we might see some rain but, as we had packed no raincoats or umbrellas, it mattered little…and so we went.

We had no idea where to tell the taxi driver to drop us off, so we let him decide for us.  He suggested a big hotel that included a back door with outside stairs that dropped down into a cavernous walkway that would allow us to meander among a number of great restaurants and shops.  Large, heavy drops of rain were just beginning to hit the sidewalk as we paid the fare and ran inside the hotel lobby.

Eventually, we found the back door and opened it – there was not another soul in sight to question and we had no real idea where we were going.   As the door was about to close, I noticed a sign which read, “This door to remain locked at all times.  You must use your hotel key for readmittance.”  We had no hotel key and, by this time, the rain was coming down in sheets.  We looked up into the sky and down into the winding staircase that led to the river below, and then I held that door and read the sign aloud one more time.

“Are you ready?” I said.  “There’s no going back.  We let that door close and it is down those stairs in the rain, okay?”

“Where do they lead?” she said.  “Is there a place to get out of the rain once we get down there?”

No idea.  Because it was a high and winding outdoor staircase, there was no way to tell what was at the bottom.  And, it was raining harder now and the wind was starting to blow the rain through the door and into the hotel.  We had to stay or go, but close the door either way.

And then, in one of those cinematic moments that I swear could not have been scripted more perfectly, she said, “Let’s walk in the rain.”

So we did.  And I’ll never forget it.

Swinging in the Rain

Julia Reading in Rain

In our part of the country, it doesn’t rain as often as I’d like.  Early in our marriage my wife and I would travel to the southern coast of Georgia once a year to spend a week with her wonderful grandparents.  It was a pristine world in which they lived, a coastal island protected by federal mandate and it seemed like another world to me.  My favorite part of those weeks revolved around the weather.  It could be hot and sunny in the morning and then rain for an hour in the afternoon and then humid straight through to twilight, when it would all dissolve into a cool, breezy evening of solitude in and around their little home.  The weather there nearly always followed that plan throughout each day – sunny and hot, rain, humid, and finally cool and breezy.

It was that afternoon rain that has held a trance over me for more than twenty years now.  As it would begin to fall, we would come inside for a late lunch and always a nap that would linger through the afternoon.  At that point in my life I had not taken a nap since I was a child, but grandparents are so good at taking naps and they would insist on it – so we did.

Last Tuesday night it finally rained for a bit here at home.  Dinner was over and the kitchen clean and everyone was busy with end-of-the-day kinds of things when our youngest realized that she had not yet completed her twenty-minute-every-night required book reading for school.  She was disappointed because she really just wanted to swing in the rain.

“Wouldn’t that be fun?” she said.

But the dilemma remained – she had to read for 20 minutes and the evening was quickly fading.

“How about you read while you swing?” I suggested.

It worked.  We were outside in a minute, each with our own books, and our youngest in her own personal paradise.  And then it happened, a roll of thunder and the rain began.  The swing is under a large tree so it worked something like an umbrella as she read.  When the drops grew large enough to penetrate the leafy canopy above her, she simply looped her zebra umbrella around the ropes above the swing and kept right on reading.

Great teachers of young children will tell you that when they encounter a student who does not like to read, it is often more a matter of what they are reading and where they are reading rather than that they don’t actually like to read.  Talking with them about their interests and giving them freedom to find an adventurous place to read can really help them become readers.

Whether in a special corner in the playroom, on the porch, under the kitchen table, in bed, under the bed, or a million other places – reading somewhere you wouldn’t normally think to read can be a lot of fun…and sitting on a swing under a big old tree in the rain is not a bad place to give it a try.