Wednesday, September 29, 2010


It has been raining steadily for several days here in New York and that has a lot of people depressed. It shouldn’t though. Apart from the lack of sunlight, which really is a problem for those of us who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, there is a lot to like about inclement weather. When it is lousy outside you can sit at home and do nothing without a shred of guilt.

In the past two days I have lounged around in my sweats and tee shirt, eating comfort food with my feet up on the ottoman and catching up on all the shows on my DVR. (Watching an entire season of “Being Human” was worth a week of rain.) I have spent an inordinate amount of quality time with my cat. In fact, he now thinks that I am the one who is overly affectionate. He probably wishes I would learn something important from him: uneventful days are meant for sleeping.

There is something comforting about rain in the city. It softens things. It muffles the endless cacophony of traffic sounds – horns, sirens, car alarms – and best of all, it forces people to keep their car windows closed and the thump, thump, thump of their music mostly consigned to their own space. It’s the exact opposite of the first nice day each spring when everyone responds by making as much noise as they can.

Everything looks sharper on a rainy day. Maybe that’s because the rain washes all the pollution out of the air. The streets are cleaner as well. One good downpour washes more trash from the gutters than the loud, and mostly ineffective, street sweeping machine does in a lifetime.

Aside from pests and vermin, weather is about the only part of nature that still exists in the city. It is bigger than the city. Watching a massive front move across the weather map reminds us that, from the storm’s point of view, we are an insignificant ground feature along the route. Throw in some good loud thunder and a pyrotechnic display of lighting, and we are realize that nature is still bigger than any power we have created and it is one thing over which we still have absolutely no control. Think about that, my thumb twiddling apps devotees!

Not everyone is fond of rainy days, especially if you have to go somewhere. Mass transit gets overwhelmed (much to the irritation of regular riders). Pools of water accumulate from dripping umbrellas in trains, lobbies, and elevators. These same spaces turn into steam baths from all that extra moisture. Glasses fog over and newspapers become limp. For commuters, it’s hell on wheels.

But to a contrarian such as the Bitter Old Queen, these past few days have been heaven. I am lifted up from my usual melancholy while everyone else is dragged down. The playing field has been leveled, however momentarily. How I love a rainy day.

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