Monday, August 3, 2009
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night
A couple of nights ago a storm came through and the rain woke me. I have a skylight in my bedroom, and the drumming was steady and incessant, typical of Virginia weather where a drought is followed by so much water that the ground can't absorb it, and the run-off clogs the culverts.
When I awoke, I had a strange moment of total disorientation. I reached an arm across the bed expecting to touch another person, and when I didn't there was a moment of secondary confusion. I knew who should have been there and wasn't. Actually, it's been almost two years since someone other than myself spent the night at my house, and by now I've gotten so used to sleeping alone that I'm not sure what my reaction would be were there another person there.
In France, where I was born, heavy rains are called giboulées. They traditionally mark the passage from winter to spring and the legends attached to them vary according to region; in the South, where Roman and Greek cultures once held sway, the giboulées are the tears of maidens wronged by gods. In the North, it's the exact opposite--male Teutonic gods being ill-treated by earthly females. Times have changed and now the rains are celebrated by rock concerts and outdoor festivals which are held, not suprisingly, mostly in the rain.
I remember as a kid looking out our apartment window in Paris during a downpour and watching the drops splatter against the pavement, my father, a good man of strong reserve, beside me. "Look," he said, "it's like thousands of little horsemen galloping." And it was. I've never forgotten the image.