It's no secret. Anyone who knows me, or reads some of the words I've posted here would see it plain and clear. I love the rain.
There's just about nothing else in life which gives me the feeling I get when I wake, warm in my bed, and the new day greets me with the soft sound of falling rain. I feel cheated if I stumble from under the covers, look outside, and realise that I've managed to catch only the tail end of the storm. I feel disappointed when I realise that I've slept through most of it, and I'm going to be denied the opportunity to hear it, to feel it.
Before I go on too much further, there's some history to this story. I guess this daylog is a progression in a series - separated by weeks and months, but surely intertwined. Firstly, there's the daylog of January 19, 2003, written in shock and disbelief as fire tore my city apart. Then, February 22, 2003, written as at last rain fell, reminding us that drought doesn't last forever.
Today, it rained again. And rained...and rained. I'd almost forgotten that the sky was capable of this. It started last night, tumbling down for hours on end. Every time I'd open the back door, expecting it to have eased, the rain continued to pour down. And then this morning, it kept on going. A Sunday at home, no need to be anywhere, no reason to do anything, except bask in the atmosphere that a wet day seems to generate. Like the air has been muted, to its very core. Then as you breathe it in, your blood is overcome by this sensation...a form of lethargy that feels just so right.
Eventually, the walls of this house began to close in. You know that image you sometimes see - I guess its your stereotypical portrait of a figure, leaning against the window as they gaze through the water flowing down the glass, a wistful look in their eyes. Trapped inside their four walls. That's not me - I didn't feel as though the rain had barricaded me in...I felt that this house was keeping the rain out. There was only one thing to do really. I went for a drive.
I'm lucky, living where I do. Less than ten minutes drive, and I can reach a little place called Pine Island. Less than a kilometre from a major shopping centre - but it feels as though you've entered a different world. Surrounded by grazing land, once you reach this place you have trouble seeing a building from the city you've just left. A river runs through this area, surrounded by picnic grounds, and the coarse sandy beaches you find near inland rivers. I still haven't gotten used to driving down the short road to this place - before, tall pine trees lined your approach into the car parks. Now there's nothing left, save charcoaled remains.
Pine Island was one of the last places hit before the fires petered out right at the edge of this part of the city. Fortunately, the trees didn't extend right up to the inhabited areas - there was a large enough area of grassland to slow down its violent advance. Those areas devastated didn't have this buffer...
Initially, I simply sat in the car. The car park is higher than the river, so I simply sat, watching this swollen river flow. This is a sight I have not seen here for probably two years - rain such at this has not fallen for a long, long time. Sure, there have been heavy storms, rain tumbling down. These never last for long though, soon enough the sky has returned to blue. This time, it had been raining for 24 hours or more, and showed no sign of slowing down. It didn't take too long before my cars walls were restricting me in the same way as the house walls had earlier - although close to the rain, I was still not close enough. It was time to get out.
I'd not really gotten into the car with any intentions, or plans. I didn't know where I was going to end up, or what I was going to do when I got there. Once I stepped out of the car, and felt the water on my face, I knew that this was where I was always going to end up being. Like an animal, acting on instinct alone, I'd arrived here without conscious thought, yet felt no surprise. I wasn't dressed for a walk through wet grass at all, but at this stage didn't really care that the cuffs of my jeans were getting soaked. I just wanted to walk...so I did.
The sound of an almost flooded river was what I wanted to hear. Finding myself at a point without obstructions to break its flow, listening to the music of tonnes of water simply rushing past. It's a soothing sound, the higher pitch of the eddies and currents gurgling, overlaid with the low hum of relentless liquid movement. Watching the ripples on the surface, betraying the presence of the broken riverbed beneath..
Eventually, I needed to move. To find the source of the low roar further downstream, where rocks across the rivers path were breaking its flow into a churning monster. Walking along the bank, taking care not to slip on the wet rocks, covered in moss and lichen. Hopping from point to point, choosing my footplace carefully. Almost before I knew what had happened, I ended up at the rapids - not long or particularly spectacular, their presence more than anything served to highlight the speed that the river was flowing. Deciding that I wanted to see more, I kept on going into the rocky area ahead. Deciding to go through the skeletons of burnt out bushes - this area would have been impassable at the beginning of the year. Now, black branches and twigs are all that remains. Still standing in their original position...still reaching out with the branches that would have hindered you in the past. I found myself brushing past more and more of them, gathering a collection of soot stains on my jeans - always like I'd taken a charcoal pen, and drawn a line straight across my clothes.
I couldn't figure out what was so eerie about the scene for some time...why it felt so strange to be clambering from rock to rock through these dead bushes. At first I thought it may have been the fact that after all this time, I was still being stained by their burnt branches - that tangible reminders of January's fury were so close at hand. That was part of it...but not the whole reason. Choosing my footing carefully, I realised that I'd rejected many because of the moss covering the rocks. Walking through this area, blackened and burnt, I'd failed to notice the signs of life returned...
Eventually, I got turned back by these branches - even now, they were too thick to pass in the wet. Turning back towards my car, my jeans soaked, water dripping from my hair, from the tip of my nose. Winding my way back, hopping across puddles which had formed in rock cavities, finding places I could cross the impromptu streams that had formed, and were now flowing to the river, until I reached the car park again. Hopping back in, and watching the windows fog from the sudden moisture I'd introduced, all that was left to do was smile.
If I could make it rain today, and wash away this sunny day down to the gutter, I would...
Counting Crows - Amy Hit the Atmosphere