Proper rain

Last Friday night there was an earthquake in Melbourne. 4.6 on the Richter scale – big for us, though not on a scale of earthquakes elsewhere. Still, think of the year we have had so far – heatwave. Firestorm. Less rain than ever before. Now an earthquake. What next? asked a friend recently. A volcano?

I’ve noticed Melbournians have a new way of talking about rain. “It’s raining,” we’ll announce with joy. “Yes…. but it’s not proper rain,” will come the reply, and we’ll have to admit this is true.

Proper rain soaks the ground. It takes the puddles a while to disappear – not just a few hours. It makes things really wet. It gets in the way of plans, means you consider things like an umbrella, or sensible shoes.

We don’t really get rain like that anymore. It rained this evening, while I was at my Italian class. We all stared out the window, completely distracted as we watched it get heavier and heavier. I started to feel a bit rueful, as I was on my bike and wearing very un-sensible shoes. But then it stopped. And it didn’t come back. I rode home in the dry.

A friend told me about children she knows here in Melbourne. According to their father, they are fascinated by rain (the way that other children might be fascinated by dirt, perhaps). They just haven’t really seen it, so when it rains they are taken completely by surprise, and are transfixed – for as long as it lasts, that is.


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