Thursday, December 8, 2016

Walking in the Rain

There are few more comforting sounds, especially in drought-stricken California, than the pitter-patter of rain on the window. The trees are wet and shining, little rivulets run down the street, the prospect of lingering comfortably in bed with a roof that doesn’t leak brings an extra pleasure to the start of the day. It’s a good time to read Dickens or Sherlock Holmes, listen to some Chopin, fill the kitchen with morning smells of coffee and pancakes.

I woke up thinking about Mary Oliver. This good woman lives a life of communion with her leafy, winged and furry neighbors in Cape Cod’s Blackwater Pond, awakens early each morning to go and sit with them with a little notebook in her pocket to find out the news of the day. And then dutifully goes home and reports it, first to her partner over breakfast and then to the world in book after book of poetry. “There’s life and there’s opera and I want both,” she once wrote, but opera her poems are not. No big drama or overblown emotion about jilted lovers, simply quiet attention to, observation of and love for a clam, a kingfisher, her dog Percy.

I like a walk in the woods and enjoy occasional similar moments of feeling part of something wonderful, but my path leads me more often over piano keys than forest paths, sits me on the floor with spirited 5-year olds instead of walking the beach with frisky dogs. Like Ms. Oliver, I, too, carry a little notebook in my front pocket, but it tends to be filled more with things like “Buy rubber pigs for the play” and “give Max the Shirley joke line” then little verbal gems about black snakes and red birds. To each his own.

As I mentioned, I woke up thinking about her and my question is simple. “Ms. Oliver, on days like this, do you take your morning walk in the rain?”

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