“Smilla’s Sense of Snow” is a best selling novel by Danish writer Peter Hoeg which was made into a movie in 1997. Julia Ormond played the lead character, Smilla, who grew up in Greenland. The premise is that Eskimos have about a couple of hundred words to describe the different types of snow and Smilla uses her knowledge of the different types of snow to solve the mystery of the death of a young boy. A couple of hundred words for snow. Probably not true but what an interesting thought nonetheless.
It’s raining here today. A slow but steady drizzle that started the previous night so that we woke up this morning to a wet and overcast world. Typically, this steady and long rainfall always causes the traffic to slow to a crawl and as I waited in the gridlock, my mind drifted towards contemplating the different types of rain that I have experienced in my life.
When the rain falls gently but steadily in a light shower, I like to go out for long walks. I’d put on a raincoat with a hood an just lose myself in the rain. I enjoy the sound of the rain striking the raincoat and watching the water dripping off the edge of the hood. I like the occasional refreshing gentle spray of water on my face or running down my fingers. I do a lot of good thinking in this rain. I often start my walk while in a funk but by the end of the walk my mood would have been lifted as if my worries were washed away. I guess I could call this type of rain, “therapeutic rain”.
There is another sort of liquid precipitation that is common in only certain parts of the world. I refer to “thick pea soup fog”. This is when the temperature is on the cold side but the air is almost fully saturated with moisture. Water hangs in the air in the form of tiny droplets which readily settle on all surfaces. I became very familiar with this type of precipitation when I went to visit a friend in Hastings, England. Hastings has some spectacular cliffs and I made four attempts over a two year period to see these cliffs. However, each time I went along the cliff top, everything was hidden behind this wall of white moisture. I guess for me, it will always be known as the Hastings Horror Rain.
I once did a silly thing when I went fell walking in the English Lake District without first checking out the weather forecast. As a result, I was caught on the exposed hill tops to fiercely icy driving rain which soon penetrated through the layers of my water resistant gear and drenched me and waterlogged my clothes in freezing cold water. So this sort of rain should rightly be called “Fool’s rain” because only fools go walking in this rain and the cold and wet soon made me hypothermic and made me behave even more like a fool. I actually ended up sitting by the side of a lake as a thunder and lightning storm broke above me, smiling and clapping at the light and sound display. Only when my brain warmed up later that I realised how stupid I was to be twiddling my toes in the lake water during a lightning storm.
One of my favorites is the first rains of the monsoon. This seasonal rain of the tropics can be awe inspiring. If you have a good vantage point, you can actually see the dark clouds and the rain advance across the landscape like a heavy curtain; a distinct wall of water falling down on to the earth. You could be standing in sunshine and yet a tremendous wall of water could be just ten meters away and advancing rapidly. You could not outrun this water curtain and once it caught you, there was no way to keep dry. The sheer volume of water coming down, pooling at your feet and splashing back upwards make umbrellas and most measures totally ineffectual. It is the closest to being in water as you can get while walking on land. This “Monsoon Curtain Rain” would soon cause the playing fields to be covered with a layer of water and you would soon hear the sound of laughter as children take the opportunity to play soccer in the water and mud. I have fond memories of Monsoon Curtain Rain.
What types of rain do you like or dislike?