The benefits of the sound of rain
It’s been raining all day, grey and cold, and I’ve been working at home. I love the sound of rain falling – obviously, since I named my blog for it. It’s my favorite sound in the world. It’s so relaxing, and makes wherever I am into a place that’s cozy and safe. It makes me feel like my neck and shoulders are getting a little tiny massage, somehow, it really does.
I’ve never lived in a place that got more than its fair share of rain, like Seattle. And though I lived in San Francisco for ten years altogether, I never lived there during one of its periods that felt, to the residents, like the proverbial forty days and forty nights. I think I would love it in spite of the inconvenience.
I did live in London, but rainfall there, while frequent, is usually so scant, you can hardly hear it, though everything gets drenched. “It’s pissing down,” the locals grumble. Nothing relaxing about that. During the winter the constant iron-grey skies made everyone feel dreary and hopeless, including me. New York, since I’ve lived here, gets just enough rain that I’m satisfied, without being so much that I’m not still thirsty for it.
Rain provides lovely white noise, and is excellent for the purposes of concentration, as everyone who likes to read when it rains can attest. It’s also helpful in assisting those of us with a touch (or more) of insomnia to fall asleep. I have several CDs of the sound of rain, and they almost always do the trick for me.
And who doesn’t love a good thunderstorm? I find them exhilarating. Here in New York we get them regularly throughout the summer, and I have a pretty good view out my 6th floor window facing the south. I always stop whatever I’m doing and go to the window to watch it, like fireworks, as my cats growl and crouch-run to their favorite hiding places. Heavy rain is my favorite. It puts me into a blissful trance, watching and listening to it.
Thunder and lightning are amazing to me, so huge and overwhelming. I’ve just learned that thunder is caused by the super-heating of the air around the lightning bolt, sometimes to 50,000° Fahrenheit (27,760° C), three times hotter than the sun, which causes the air to expand and contract rapidly and creates a shock wave we hear as the cracks and rumblings of thunder. All of that is happening right there. Lightning is beautiful, too. Sure hope my fire escape never gets hit.
This past summer, a friend and I were watching a movie when a lightning storm began, ahead of the rain. There was a crack of thunder so loud and so close, I screeched and leapt up, convinced a bomb had gone off a few blocks away. I’d hate to be hit by something like that, though more than half the people struck survive it. Here is an entertaining Straight Dope article about that.
The most exciting thunderstorm I ever experienced was in Dahab, in the Sinai peninsula of Egypt, around New Year’s Eve 1993-94. We were staying in one of the numerous “camps” there, basically a group of concrete boxes with thatched roofs full of insects, set around a central courtyard, which cost us 5 Egyptian pounds or about $2 a night at the time. I think Dahab has changed its character from ultra-cheap backpackers’ heaven since then. They get a good storm like that every year, with heavy rain that washes away anything less solid than concrete and creates gullies and temporary rivers in the defenseless sand.
Four of us had run and taken shelter in one of these concrete boxes, our own having had its roof collapse. We put cut-off plastic water bottles under the worst leaks and piled our packs on the driest corners of the beds, and waited it out, as there was no sleeping with that racket going on. My ranger friend from Canada and I stood in the doorway and watched. Soon, however, we realized we had a problem. We both had to pee. Very badly. Watching the water rushing through the courtyard wasn’t helping, and also meant that the toilets across the courtyard were out of reach. We held out for as long as we could, then did the only thing possible. Taking turns, each of us dropped trou and leaned as far over the swirling waters as we could, whooping and laughing, holding a raincoat over our head in a vain attempt not to get completely drenched. It remains the most thrilling pee I’ve ever had. An hour or so later, the storm passed on, and we slept like angels, waking to minor devastation and a blue, blue sky.
I know some people hate storms. I know there’s definitely such a thing as too much rain, and I feel for those who’ve experienced floods. But I always smile, whenever I hear the sound of rain.