Small Holes in the Silence

The beauty of rain

I can hear you making
small holes in the silence

Hone Tuwhare, Rain

A long time muse of art, music and literature, rain is the one meteorological phenomenon that fires the imagination like no other.

In literature, New Zealand's own Hone Tuwhare had a decent crack at it. The most famous poems of Ezra Pound's and William Carlos Williams' featured it pretty heavily, and Noah's Ark would have been a lame story without it. Monet tried to catch the mood with paint, and I have to mention Blade Runner, one of the great examples of soggy film noir.

Although some in the arts take a less introspective view. Maybe it's a cultural thing, the difference between urbanites and rural dwellers, or that attitudes are different in warmer climates? Ladysmith Black Mambazo have a song simply called Rain. It's pretty straight forward, the chorus repeats the magic word over and over, as if joyously, earnestly willing it into existence.

We often come across rain in the outdoors. It's part of the package. We plan for it, we check the weather reports for it, we have high-tech membrane jackets to protect us from it. It becomes less an artistic reflection of the self and more a physical fact we have to deal with.

It's only after a day spent trudging through the rain, snug inside a sleeping bag, the rain splattering on the tin roof or the tent awning that we can allow ourselves to feel something. And it turns out it's not the rain that we love, it's the warm, dry, escape from it. I think that's what Tuwhare is really getting at in his poem, like a hole in the silence, rain is best appreciated by what it's not.