The New Age writer and lecturer Stuart Wilde once advised his audience to walk in the rain in one’s best clothing without a topcoat or an umbrella. I heard this on one of his cassette tape audio books–perhaps it’s on Life Was Never Meant to Be a Struggle.
I don’t know if Wilde was serious about his advice or not because much of his content sounded like it was ad-libbed off the top of his head. The scenario is remarkable because of its absurdity. Basically, he described putting on one’s best shirt, most expensive suit, finest shoes and going outdoors for a leisurely stroll in a downpour without first putting on a raincoat nor carrying an umbrella. This was supposed to help the listener let go of worry about material things. I don’t know if Wilde ever actually did this or if he was just blowing hot air into his microphone.
Wilde’s rain story came to mind while watching yet another thundershower the other day. Eastern Nebraska has been having a rather wet spring and summer this year. Small streams and rivers have washed over their flood stages this June and July. Motorists have been frequently advised not to drive through flood covered roads due to flash floods because the biggest cause of fatalities from floods is due to people driving on flooded highways.
Many times I’ve tuned into NOAA weather radio to catch a quick weather forecast update, only to hear about still more severe thunderstorm warnings and flood warnings. After ten minutes of this, I usually switch off the radio and read the forecast on my tablet instead. Of course, there is more rain predicted for the rest of the week.
Talk about the weather is the easiest subject for small-talk all around the world. This talk is taken much more seriously in agricultural locales like the Great Plains of North America. An area’s very economy rests on the fickleness of rain.
Anyone who raises crops or knows a farmer understands that whether or not the rains come, drastically affects the yield or profit one gets from the land. Most farmers have sunk a fortune into real estate, equipment, seeds, chemicals and mortgage interest payments into their operations. A very dry year or a very wet year can cause financial ruin.
I was thinking about farmers when the Stuart Wilde scenario popped into my head. Most farmer’s figuratively put on their finest suits and walk in downpours. To watch their huge investments in the soil threatened by approaching tall thunderheads must be a sinking feeling.
When the growing season is dominated by too much rain, the farmers can only plant with great difficulty, if they can navigate muddy fields at all. If the excess rains continue through the summer, cultivation of crops is more difficult. By autumn, continued rain impedes harvest. There is the added expense of artificially drying the harvested crops.
So too much or not enough rain contributes to mom and pop farms going out of business and large operators consolidating more and more land.
Then there is the simple reality of rain in the summer. It brings a welcome drop in temperature during the shower. Afterwards, the relative humidity rises to unbearable levels. It is during these wet years that a person can easily feel sadness and disappointment. It’s good to read something uplifting during yet another overcast, drippy day. Such material brings us back to accepting reality.
“If you truly get in touch with a piece of carrot, you get in touch with the soil, the rain, the sunshine. You get in touch with Mother Earth and eating in such a way, you feel in touch with true life, your roots, and that is meditation. If we chew every morsel of our food in that way we become grateful and when you are grateful, you are happy.”–Thich Nhat Hanh
Later this week, August begins. I wonder if the rains will continue far into the month. If so, it will be very hot, wet, and steamy. That could mean it will be a time of physical inaction for those of us who are growing older. Rainy spells are good times to reflect on the cycles of weather and the cycles of human life. We are reminded that we are part and parcel of the miracle that is the planet Earth. Rain not only brings us food, it also brings fodder for philosophizing.