That’s what my new doctor in Seattle says: “Embrace the rain.” After 18 years of (almost) constant sunshine in Los Angeles, my husband and I moved to Seattle, Washington in time for five months of recording-breaking rain.
Most of the time, LA rain disappears in a day. When it rains, we act like we’ll melt. We try to stay indoors and off the roads until the sun returns, birds sing, and life returns to its normal sunny state. Ah, those were the days…
Our first month here was filled with beautiful blue skies and fall colors on the hills. Plenty of sunshine as we began our new life. Gorgeous. Then the rain came and came and came.
At first I acted as if I was still in LA. I waited until the next day to go to the grocery and walk the dogs. And then the next day. And the next day. You get the idea. It was still raining. Finally, I bought an umbrella and got my sorry butt to the grocery.
Surely the sun will return soon, I thought. It can’t rain forever. Wrong. It can rain for more than a week at a time. Of course, I knew this before I moved here, but living the reality is different. Now I know that, during the winter, I could starve if I wait for sunshine before going to the grocery. Plus, staying out of the rain neither gets me exercise nor fends off cabin fever.
I know I used to live in rainy climates, so it shouldn’t have been a big deal, but those places weren’t like this one. It rains so often here that people have learned how to get on with their life in the midst of it. They garden, mow their lawns, and wash their cars in the rain. They bike, jog, hike, and take their children to the playground in the rain. They pause for floods but otherwise keep going with every aspect of life. I’d forgotten how to live like that.
One of my new doctors laughed when I told him I didn’t like walking in the rain. He responded, “I tell all my LA transplants to embrace the rain. The sun is fantastic in the summer and the days are long. In the meantime, buy waterproof shoes, a rain slicker, fleece pants, and a brimmed hat. Walk, hike, jog, ride. Don’t wait for sunny days. Embrace the rain!” Since this guy rides his bike to work in the rain, snow, sleet and sun, it was hard to argue. Before letting his enthusiasm drain away, I drove to the REI Mother Store where I bought new walking shoes and a down vest for under my rain slicker. After driving home in the rain, I took my brimmed hat off the closet shelf and went for a walk in the rain.
I’m still not excited about walking in the rain. Yuck. Maybe I’ll feel differently by next winter. I like sunny days better. I’m practicing my embrace of the rain, however. I spent an half-an-hour at the dog park with my dogs this weekend in the rain. I’ve raked my yard and even washed my car in the rain–once. I run errands, look at potential houses, and explore the area in the rain. I’d be lying, though, if I said I don’t like the sunny days more than the rainy ones.
On the other hand, the rain keeps the air so clean that my lungs are already healing. I finally feel better than I have in over a year. Thank goodness. This is what we hoped for. As I said before we moved, I’ll take lots of rain if it helps me breathe. Plus, the green forests that seem to surround us wherever we go are stunning and the moss on the trees outside my window is stunning in its vivid green.
So, for the past few months I’ve made “Embrace the Rain” my current life motto, not just to get me out of my house, but as a way to respond to the parts of life I don’t like or wish were different. I couldn’t march in the rain but I’m calling my senators and congressman. I can’t fix all my health issues but I’m working away at them. I couldn’t type or telephone for months because of my broken shoulder, but I’m doing my physical therapy and am back at my keyboard.
It takes determination, persistence, and a certain frame of mind to embrace the rain and transform it into a marker of courage and character. Life is too short to wait for sunshine.
Postscript: We not only had rain this winter. We had a great snow storm. This is a picture of me in my new winter parka, embracing the snow, too.