Sunday, July 21, 2013


Last weekend a tropical depression was supposed to come through. We didn't get much rain, and the news caused the depression part (sorry, I'm not good at puns but sometimes I have to make them). This weekend however, it's been pouring. I love the rain. LOVE IT! I love the way it sounds, smells, feels, tastes. I forgot one there, but you get it. When I was kid and it would rain hard, we would go to the front porch and hold cups under the eaves to see whose cup would fill the fastest. There's a metaphor there if I could find it.

I was looking at a series of maps illustrating different dialects and word usage across the United States, and something that struck me was how much of the country lacks a word or words for rain when the sun is shining. In Florida we call it a sun shower; apparently this isn't a commonly used term throughout the rest of the United States. I can't remember where, but there are only a few other states that use it. The rest of the south calls it "the devil beating his wife," which I'm going to go right by (that's a different blog post), and a whole swatch of the country, when polled, didn't have a word for this happening. Which is weird to me. Sun showers are beautiful and beastly. In the summer, sure you get rainbows, but it's rain without the relief.

The cumulonimbus clouds build and build like the humidity, and then the rain comes. And the relief comes. The big thunderstorms bring a drop in temperature and a respite from the sun. The clouds inspire awe with their size alone. Not to mention the storms they bring. When I was in high school, Florida went through a drought. Needing more rain happens frequently, but this was a drought that lasted all summer. The clouds would build, but then the upper atmosphere would shear them or send them elsewhere. Afternoon followed afternoon with no relief. It seemed like we had a whole summer with absolutely no rain. That's not accurate, but it was bad. The next summer followed similarly. Until one afternoon. The home I grew up in has a long driveway that runs between the house and the garage. In front of the house is open pasture. I remember standing between the house and the garage watching the dark cumulonimbus clouds meet. Thunderhead butting against thunderhead until there was a wall of black clouds coming en masse down the driveway. I could see the rain sheeting down. A wall of cool air hit me 45 seconds before the rain did. Afternoon thunderstorms are for Florida what aloe is for a sunburn.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know what the rest of the country says, but I always called it rainshine.