Photo by Markus Reinhardt
The following ran as my July 27, 2016 Just a Thought column in the Terrace Standard. Because I’ve been distracted by wonderful things this summer (namely my new grandson 🙂 and my whopping 25th wedding anniversary), it was a reprint of something I wrote in July 2012 . . . and while the weather right now is glorious, hot, sunny and perfect, and I haven’t complained about it a bit, the words still resonate with me. I hope you like them too. Enjoy!
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I’m guilty of complaining about the weather this year. I can’t help it—it’s been so blah and wet the past few weeks. And when the leaden sky opens and pours buckets and the cold wind kicks up, I know I’m not the only one to bellyache. I’ve heard you!
A couple of events challenged my negativity. The first involved a plastic tote of gravel. I was at friend’s house and she came up with the notion that we should craft hot pan mats out of rock and canvas like material. We’d both seen similar done with agates, shiny black stones, etc., and thought, Why not? It could turn out really cool.
She got her son to get a load of gravel from the back of their property. Surveying the dusty gray rocks, we started to second-guess the genius of our inspiration.
“They probably look better wet,” she said a bit dubiously.
I can hardly explain how surprised I was as we washed our rock collection only to have every single blah pebble turn a brilliant colour—purple, green, coppery brown, speckled black and whites, pale peach—it was amazing.
Something about the extreme beauty in something so plain and easily overlooked as the gravel that lies alongside ditches really struck me. Before I could commence gluing, I had to take before and after pictures of the rocks, so I would remember the difference looking at the stones another way made.
Then one evening I took a walk with one of my sisters. It was almost dry—we thought were safe. And then when it would take as long to walk back to the car as it would to finish our walk, it started to drizzle. And then pour! It was exactly like someone had turned on a shower full blast. The water soaked our hair and jackets, ran in rivers behind our ears and down our necks. We looked at each other and had to laugh.
The streetlights came on and reflections of the beams—warm yellow circles—shimmered up at us from the glimmering pools of water on the black cement. The clouds were a kaleidoscope of every shade of gray, from soft and light, the colour of dove belly, to sooty almost black—as they crept and sped and turned and bumped across the sky.
And then I walked another night with one of my other sisters, around 10:00 p.m. It had rained hard all day and the sky actually seemed lighter with the approaching night than it had in the afternoon. Above the deep green wall of trees beside us, the clouds, as if to prove that the sun was really in the sky somewhere, were opalescent—silvery with deep, glowing pink edges that gradually faded out into a soft purple hue.
As we oohed about how gorgeous it was, my sister laughed and said something to the effect of, “And here everybody’s been complaining about how awful it a day it was, and we were just being impatient. It’s completely beautiful.”
And here’s the thing I realized, true about rainy walks, gravel-turned-glorious and many other things: often what we see and feel has little to do with what’s actually right in front of us. Scenery and situations are coloured by mood, by expectations, by past experiences, and sometimes we just need to look at the exact same things slightly differently to appreciate them.
I won’t make any promises to stop lamenting the lack of sun this July, but I will try to get out, consider the present without comparing it to some other moment, and open my eyes to the beauty that’s everywhere.