RainTuesday, October 10, 2017
Of rain, that constant awareness of its existence is something that made me reflect as I was sitting in our parked Chevrolet Cruz. I was in Kerrisdale for Rosemary to finish her special exercises to relieve the pressure on her new left knee.
As some of us who reach a certain age we look back at our past to dwell on those people, places and events that have been a part of it. Since I can remember I have knowledge of rain in my native Buenos Aires. It was there that one feels an incessant rain that porteños (in Spanish nationalities and the names of the inhabitants of cities and countries are always in lower case) call a garúa. As lovely as that word sounds it is not onomatopoeic as its Mexican equivalent chipi-chipi.
Our house on Melián 2770 in the neighbourhood of Coghlan (the name of the nearby English style train station) had cobbled stone street with metal drain gratings that we called cantarillas. When it did not garuar but really rained the street would flood up to about two feet and my friends and I would play in the water in our bathing trunks.
The Pampa was much like Texas that I remember in my teenage years there in that when it rained there was always a flood and roads became impassable. Then a drought would happen and that rain would be forgotten.
But today looking at the rain drops on our Cruze I thought especially of Jorge Luís Borges’s poem Rain. I wrote about it here. I thought about it because it suddenly came to me that rain, more than anything else is always of rain in one’s past. Unless you are experiencing a flood and rain in the future becomes all that much more important. Perhaps it is about this morning or about rain a month ago or rain that did not happen a month ago that I thought of the poem:
Borges put it this way:
Rain is something that happens in the past
Whenever it rains in Vancouver after a few days of dry weather (I don’t suggest anybody go to Wreck Beach in the middle of a long dry spell summer and you know why!) my memory takes me to the smell of wet earth that comes with the pampero a hot wind that blows into Buenos Aires. It is the same smell of spit on a smooth dry rock called petrichor. I wrote about that here.
Today’s rain brings with it the comfort that as soon as I finish this I will go upstairs, put on my flannel nightgown and get into bed (Rosemary and Casi-casi will be waiting); I will read what I left unfinished in today’s New York Times; I will put out the light and think of rain.
I will think of that humid rain of Buenos Aires with the accompanying smells of the nearby port and the River Plate that in the winter brings chilblains and the security of entering the warmth of a nearby pizzeria with my parents.