Rainy season

by Brian Clarey

The edge of the storm hit last night, about an hour into our poolside card game, rolled in fast with a flourish of electric pomposity. When the rain came, it hit hard.

In journalism, there are some things you never say about rain. You never say it came down in “buckets,” because clichés are lame. Likewise, you should never use the words “cats and dogs” to describe the downpour.

And when rain affects an outdoor event — say a parade or a road race or a festival — never, under any circumstances should you type the phrase “but it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits,” because that’s no good at all.

There’s a surcease in the downpour outside the coffeeshop window right now, the sun doing its darndest to burn through the cloud cover. But the weather map tells a different story. And to be frank, all this precipitation is starting to get me down. You might even say it’s starting to dampen my spirits.

Rain played havoc with my schedule through the weekend, adding layers of difficulty to an overbooked list, and now I find myself on Monday morning running furiously behind after nature imposed its handicap.

And maybe it’s just as well. Rain has a way of locking you down, freezing you in place. There are a lot of things you just can’t do in the rain, and for many of us it taps deeply into a desire to sit on the couch and watch TV.

*** On Friday, my oldest son turned 13, and I just don’t know what to make of it. Surely, my wife and I are amazed that we’ve kept him alive this long, fed and clothed and granted a degree of education appropriate to his age and abilities.

He’s huge — nearly as tall as I am, with giant hands and feet like a prize pit-bull pup. He’s of an age now where I can see in his face the man he will one day become. And as he’s grown, so have his horizons. He’s got a life now, one that that extends beyond the boundaries of his home and his family. It’s the natural way of things, I know — kids get a little bit more independent every day. But it drives home the point that my years of active, everyday fatherhood are indeed finite, that soon, sooner than I can imagine, he’ll pack his things and move out of our house, and his brother and sister will follow in quick succession.

It’s a reminder, too, that, rain or no, the days pass by, the clock doesn’t stop. Life goes on, even in the rain.

*** The early rains on Saturday morning wiped out my plans to cut my lawn in the morning before the Mosaic Festival in downtown Greensboro began at noon. You can’t cut a wet lawn, everybody knows that — you can’t even run a mower across it until the water seeps from the sod.

The sun came out hard, though, before the festival kicked off, turning Festival Park into a steamy marsh while immigrants from dozens of nations celebrated our multicultural city.

Perhaps you hadn’t noticed that some time during the last 10 years or so, Greensboro has become one of the most diverse cities in the state, with an influx of newcomers hailing from southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South and Central America. More than 117 languages are spoken in Guilford County schools.

It’s a little bit like New York at the turn of the 20 th century, when my people came across from Ireland and Italy to find better lives. Like some of the people in Festival Park on Saturday, my great-grandparents had their share of troubles in the New World as they worked to establish themselves. But they didn’t let a little rain get in their way.

*** The rain today is part of a larger system sweeping across the mid-Atlantic; it looks like an archipelago of island nations on my weather map as it shifts to the northeast. The next series, which runs from Michigan down to Alabama, has capitals of yellow and red. It looks like it’s going to get wet around here soon.

It’s coming down in sporadic fits, one minute spraying sheets across the road, another piddling drips onto surfaces of standing water.

Out the window, the streets have dried and many of the puddles have cleared. It’s a good time to make a run for my car without the rain soaking through my shirt. I’ll head out there in just a bit, after I finish my coffee, after I finish my column. I’m hoping to stay dry, but it’s not always possible to avoid the elements. And if I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that it’s always raining somewhere.