Crisp clear mornings washed bright by rain don’t happen often in Colorado. The dawn of a new day after a rain here often means dirt will blow, or some other gray phenomenon will be coming our way before the day’s end. Not pessimism, just simply the way the rain works in Colorado. There aren’t many rainy days.
As a teenager, we spent many summers in the midwest where rain was more common and I learned that I really enjoyed a good rain storm. Many of my journals those summer days began with “the rain drizzled down the window” and talked about weather systems I longed for back home. “Thunder rumbled and rolled across Michigan, ripping through the forested land like a new plow, laboring under rain laden gray clouds.” Could provide for hours of writing a description of storms rolling slowly overhead as I curled on the top bunk of our family motorhome with my paper and pen a handy friend.
Those journals, today, provide the basis for many of my stories, the gifted purple prose capturing an audience and grabbing my attention as I lead into character ridden stories of adventure and mystery. No more could I turn away from those descriptions than I could put down my pen to write no more. To breath is to write.
One rainy afternoon, I’d left my journal open on the dinette table and Grandma entered the motorhome for a nap. She’d settled into one side of the dinette while I focused on a sketch I’d been working on most of the day, to illustrate one of my stories. The hours passed and I heard Grandma sniffle. I looked past my illustration to see her wipe a tear from her eye.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, putting down my pen to go check on her.
“Write, “the rain drops splatter” here and your story is perfect.” She pointed to a phrase where I’d said, “the rain drops dance.”
“Why can’t they dance?” I asked, looking through the rest of the story.
“Rain drops can’t dance, it’s wrong. People dance when they’re all drunked up on liquor.” She answered, closing her eyes to rest.
The conversation was over, but I looked closely at the story I’d written. She’d used my pen to correct a few words, but not ‘dance’ she’d left it for me to correct.
I marked through the word ‘dance’ and wrote above it “splatter” before I left the motorhome. Grandma took her afternoon nap and I went off to play. The days grew long and many, we didn’t get home for almost six weeks that trip. She spent her afternoons reading through my journal and correcting my grammar. In the margin on one short article about the sunset, she wrote the word, “mystical”. In another margin, she wrote “I dreamed of a sunset such as this, the days were long and bitter cold. Daddy (the name she always used to refer to my grandfather) said we’d had too much winter and it was time for heat. That night under the cover of another snow storm I dreamed of a sun so hot in the western sky that the snow melted. We awakened to dry land and green shoots coming through the sod. My dream came true.”
Those summers were nearly thirty-five years ago, but I remember them like they were yesterday. My journals keep the memories fresh, and the pictures I see when I close my eyes are priceless and cannot be replaced.
Tonight, I’m watching the rain hit the window, not a lot, just a drop or two, but I think “the rain drops splatter”.