I’m a rain enthusiast. Not a die-hard, in-your-face fan because there is such a thing as too much rain. More of a devotee of the finer features of rain. It probably comes of growing up in the Pacific Northwest in Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., and then living in both Portland, Ore., and the Seattle area. Most of us here understand the nourishing role of rain and all it does for our outdoor living rooms. Matt Love, an Oregon author, wrote a quirky, meandering little book entitled Of Walking in Rain. Naturally I bought it and splashed along with his writings, mostly based on life along the Oregon coast where the rain is prodigious and ubiquitous. Reading about rain or walking in it are what devotees of rain are apt to do when they are not perusing catalogues of rain-repellant and waterproof clothing and hats while sipping a hot drink.
Anthony Doerr writes in his memoir about his first storm in Rome when “the lightning lashes the domes of churches” and “hail clatters on the terrace.” After the onslaught, he notices what I do during my visit. “In the early morning, the air seems shinier and purer than I’ve seen it.” I suppose it’s the drama of rainstorms that appeals to my writer’s heart, bringing the humidity to a climax while the serene aftermath becomes a glowing denouement.
Rome offered me its own stormy rain encounters. Like the city, rain is a full-immersion experience. The rain performance is usually supported by two reliable character actors. The distant voice of thunder rumbling its complaints to the mountains. Lightning stabs the air with flashy whispers, startling the sky wide open. Then, flowing onstage, water descends from cloud to street, thundering along in its own running of the bulls along the cobblestones.
What I love the best is the Roman sky after the rain, a glimmering, glorious, fresh-washed blue still fraught with clouds of all hues from white to black. Standing in the lane I watch as the sun reappears and wakes the dark, wet stone. The air somehow sounds clean.
(Feature photo at top: Storm clouds gathering over Rome, as seen from Frascati.)