One inch of rain contains an assertion of stability and order that puts
gardeners at ease. Three quarters of an inch seems meager at this
time of year, whereas an inch and a quarter, seems a little
greedy. Were I living in Europe, I would have to get my mind
around two and a half centimeters of rain to achieve this same sense of an
In the City of Cardiff, in South Wales, a part
of the United Kingdom, rain is plentiful, but it belongs to a different
species of rain. In Cardiff rain arrives off the Atlantic Ocean in
slow moving mass, it falls gently as a drizzle, sometimes for days or
weeks at a time. Only very occasionally do I recall there
being rain in the sense that vegetables in the garden here in Kentucky
might recognize rain.
Then one summer, in the City of
Cardiff, the rain absented itself to the delight of most. It was like a
holiday. Clothes were always dry, the sky blue, sun pleasantly
refreshing in those northern latitudes. In the downtown a good nose
could smell sun cream, and girls and boys started wearing less and
less. White arms in short sleeves, turned red then brown.
It was a mood unaffected by requests from
the city to reduce water usage. No one took the slightest
notice. The city paper suspected that water usage had actually
increased during the emergency, and when the city was finally persuaded to
ration water I could hear baths being filled in the house where I
Blissful months later, while walking
home from work, a route that took me past the central train station, rain
returned. I could sense the collective sigh in those around me.
A relief that contained sadness, but a pavement so thirsty it just seemed to
suck those first drops of rain out of the air.
Behind me in the crowd I heard a loud disgruntled
voice ask, "Why is it always raining in Cardiff?" I turned
to look at him. He and his young lady were carrying suitcases.