O my God, after seemingly endless rain and gloom, we wonder if You forgot to set Your alarm. Worse, maybe You left on an infinite vacation. Then surprise! On this sunny day, Your Light drenches us. We remember that You and the sun are there always — whether we see You or not.
Thank you for informing us, as people bail out living rooms. Facebook whines and surly crowd mumbles at Walmart — my scientific tools for measuring demographic mood — have reached record levels.
So I share suggestions for coping with April showers until they produce May flowers and golfing hours.
- Celebrate that nonstop rain = a power wash for house. And cars. And the lawn mower I forgot to put in the garage.
- Instead of a rain dance, do a sun dance. Show your moves to bored kids and grandkids. They’ll either join in or run screaming, leaving you to dance — or nap — in peace.
- Monitor the backyard battle. Marching dandelions take over my lawn. However, violets are mobilizing, too. Who will win? My neighbors are taking bets.
- Clean the junk drawer—a penance that satisfies the pathological urge to accomplish “spring cleaning” without actually doing it.
- Stick your nose outside to sniff the wet glory of earth and hyacinths.
- Count cars racing through the rain — my nostalgic salute to inclement childhood days when I truly had nothing to do.
- Reassure pansies. Mine won’t spend their entire lives in our garage. Soon I’ll send them, plus houseplants, outside and watch them party.
- Try on summer clothes. If mine fit, I pat myself on the back. If not, I shop for a new wardrobe!
- Listen to your parents’ music. Doing so recalls the rare privilege of sitting in the station wagon’s front seat while envious siblings elbowed each other in back. The radio poured out orchestra music led by David Rose, Henry Mancini and Percy Faith while raindrops raced down the windshield. Wipers, resembling long, thin Fred-Astaires clad in tails, bowed in sync.
- Snuggly rainy days are the perfect backdrop for devouring an I-can’t-put-this-down book.
- Throw a baseball inside the house. Someone will yell at you, and you’ll feel like you’re nine again.
- Be daring. Watch an old movie, when good-night kisses were considered somewhat scandalous.
- Find an intact umbrella and walk. Pass a house with Christmas decorations and feel smug because you put yours away last week.
- Sing outside. Belt out “Singin’ in the Rain,” “I Love a Rainy Night,” or “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” — and watch traffic clear out.
What’s your favorite rainy day activity?
In the Oregon desert where I lived two years, the few thunderstorms rated newspaper headlines. People ran for cover as if King Kong had invaded. They spoke in hushed tones of thunder, lightning and the deluge that made them search for the nearest Ark to rent.
Those storms hardly would have rated an umbrella in Indiana. Still, my father’s congregation trembled when he assumed the storm watcher persona he adopted long before The Weather Channel. Piles of purple clouds — if rotating, all the better — called for his scrutiny.
Mom, however, insisted that my siblings and I remain safe inside. How boring.
Later, back in Indiana, I was a passenger in a car that defied a white sheet of rain stretched across the road. Tree branches ripped, grabbing sparking power lines as they crashed. A chimney exploded.
The driver very appropriately prayed, “Dear Jesus, keep us safe. But if not, please take us to heaven.”
This struck me as unnecessarily pessimistic. In one of my less holy moments, I yelled at the top of my 18-year-old lungs, “Knock it off, Jo. Quit giving me last rites, okay?”
God in His mercy listened to Jo and ignored me.
I later succumbed to Boring Mother Disease during storm season. One spring, my small children and I spent so much time snuggled in our bathtub, they regarded it as a second library, the normal place to read storybooks.
My husband, bone-tired from a 24/7 medical practice, refused to budge from his nice warm bed just because pesky tornadoes suffered from insomnia.
Our next house featured an ancient basement. Hubby still favored Oz during tornado warnings. The kids and I, however, preferred the dungeon to our former cramped porcelain refuge. We added Play-Doh and Yahtzee tournaments to the storm regimen.
Now empty-nesters, Steve and I again live in a one-story ranch. Upon purchase, I assured myself that no storm could hoist my post-middle-age body more than a few feet.
Soon, however, lightning seemingly sizzled around my pillow, and moaning wind and rain drowned my husband’s snores. I craved my former dungeon, but tried to reassure myself.
You’ll laugh about this tomorrow.
The next morning, our ceiling had not moved. Peeking out windows, I saw no branches on the ground — not even many twigs. Why had I been such a nervous Nellie?
Back to Bathtub Story Hour for me.
Are you a storm watcher? Or do you run for a basement–or bathtub?
Thanks to my in-laws, I realize snowbirding isn’t easy. Snowbirds deal with two sets of household worries. Before leaving the Midwest, they must forward mail, stockpile medicines, and empty refrigerators. By law, they cannot desert the state until they eat or give away every single egg.
I only had to stockpile frozen dinners for Hubby — and assure him I would try not to enjoy my work too much.
However, I faced wardrobe complications, digging through mountains of summer clothes for an outfit that fit. Usually I don’t even have to say the word “waistline” until May.
Migration itself proved challenging. At the airport, I, a sixtyish grandma armed only with expired Liquid-Plumr® coupons, was dusted for explosives.
The airline also implemented an aggressive program to increase passenger space. All zone four passengers, including myself, were tossed into compactors that crunched us into pillow-sized rectangles. We fit into the airplane seats, no longer suffering from lack of leg room.
Finally carted from the aircraft, I understood why snowbirds brave Florida migration tribulations. Palm trees, with real green leaves, fluttered a hello. Brilliant flowers abounded. No wonder the Spanish explorers named it “Flowery Land.”
Today, however, they might name it “Trailer Court Country.” Thousands bloom on the Florida landscape. These mobile home parks offer neighborhood lifestyles like no other. Need to borrow a cup of sugar? Simply stick your measuring cup out your window into your neighbor’s kitchen.
Need exercise? Walkers benefit physically and enjoy constant access to neighbors’ favorite episodes of The Andy Griffith Show — at Cape Canaveral sound levels.
I did enjoy the novelty of hearing, “You’re so young!” Throw in fresh seafood, and it doesn’t get much better than that.
Given my schedule, I did not see the ocean. Had I viewed its blue, sparkly waves, I might have, as my hospitable hosts urged, stayed much longer.
Instead, the heat chased us inside, where they turned on air-conditioning. I tried to imagine avoiding torrid Easter temperatures. Seeing Santa in a red tank top.
I envisioned myself in a bathing suit most of the year.
That prospect scared this temporary snowbird back to airport security, zone four passenger compactors, and a flight back to her Midwestern nest.
Are you a snowbird wannabe? Or do you prefer snuggling by the fire?
Our truant sun, rumored to have defected to another solar system, finally has appeared. Throughout the Midwest, mothers pull plugs and hide batteries, demanding their offspring “go outside and play!”
For generations, these card-carrying members of The Great Mother Conspiracy have specialized in kicking kids out of the house.
However, during the 60s, moms spouted unique wisdom: “Sunshine’s good for you!”
We needed vitamin D, or some such thing.
Ha! Had I not read of Laura Ingalls Wilder, forced to wear sunbonnets to keep her skin white? My own grandmother donned sunbonnets while gardening or bringing the cows home.
Why, on sizzling days, couldn’t I stay inside and read? At Mom’s bidding, however, (and because she locked the screen behind us), I obeyed, accumulating a dark tan.
During adolescence, my desperate friends, afflicted with peaches-and-cream complexions and tiny allowances, smeared baby oil (with and without iodine) from head to toe, frying in backyards. Affluent palefaces bought trendy suntan lotions guaranteed to turn them into California girls. Instead, orange-streaked and -striped, they resembled Tony the Tiger.
Regardless, orangeness equaled popularity. I, blessed/cursed with a natural tan, sighed for such status.
Regardless of skin tones, all “lay out.” Working assiduously on my tan, I nevertheless concealed a deep, dark secret: I disliked it. Lying out resembled the Mother Conspiracy command to “go outside and play.”
The similarity should have roused parental sympathy as they watched us loll on blankets, listening to transistor radios. Yet they could not comprehend how hard we were working.
What could you expect from moms who tanned only while weeding gardens and chasing after kids? From dads who sported farmer tans? When parents insisted on family beach time, we teens spread our towels far away, lest their chubby, lily-white backs and bellies shame us.
I, suffering a bald father who wore a hat while water skiing, spread mine in the next county.
By the time I frequented kiddie pools with my toddlers, the Great Mother Conspiracy did a 180-degree turn. Expensive sun block replaced expensive suntan lotion. No evil sunshine would attack our babies!
The tanning industry responded with infinite wisdom: free sunshine was bad, but expensive tanning beds would make us sexy, increase I.Q.s, and free us from excess cash cluttering our lives.
Hubby and I keep our cash and slather on sun block. I still prefer hot summer afternoons inside with a good book. But he slaps on sun block, then hands me the tube.
“It’s hot outside,” I whine.
He tugs me free from the sofa’s soft, seductive clutches. “Exercise is good for you.”
Sigh. How long before medical authorities and The Great Mother Conspiracy overturn that one?
Have you ever worked hard on your tan? What was your favorite tanning concoction?
Oh, my God, this weekend it snowed. Thundered. Hailed. Blew. Walking to church, we had to avoid ice on the streets. Yet, with the sun’s chilly afternoon rays, Hubby changed the oil on the lawn mower and raised the pop-up camper. OMG, is he a man of faith or just crazy?