The rain started in Amsterdam early, early this morning. The city seems to shake and groan as water pours down from above in sheets. This is not happy rain. This is not the kind of warm rain you take a romantic and fatalistic walk through. It’s the kind of rain you must simply accept, washing over your entire life, whose only promise is that this too must pass.
Nobody can claim to be surprised by this weather, after enjoying so many days of glorious sunshine. Over the weekend every street cafe was open, every boat was on the canal. We all knew, all told each other, that the sun wouldn’t last, that the rain would come. We told ourselves that, steeled ourselves against the coming winter.
There are places that deny the weather, where it rains all the time, but nobody ever carries an umbrella. In this place, people are always aware of the weather, always aware that though the sun may shine, rain is always just over the horizon. Nobody considers this morbid, a dour pessimism that sours the smell of sunlight.
Rather, it is the memory of rain that drives us to soak up the sun every opportunity we get, the knowledge of it that drives us to try to stay dry. If we let the rain surprise us each time, or if we live in constant denial of it, we will never understand the weather, the atmosphere, or our place within it. We will simply be wet, and dry, and wet again.
If we prepare, if we are ever cognizant of the impermanence inherent in nature, we can be ready for the rain when it comes. You can keep your clothes warm and your hair in order. What it seems like you can never avoid, which perhaps we should learn to savor as being part of this planet, is the feeling of raindrops running down your face.