It wasn’t raining at seven o’clock; it wasn’t raining at seven o’five, or at seven-twenty; but by seven-thirty a soft drizzle had settled into the forest. A mile on the footpath behind and two ahead, the price in either direction a soaked pair of clothes—why not ahead?
The forest is beautiful when it’s raining. Especially in the evening. A dim twilight already falling, the drizzle sweeps in softly—no great event, the forest unremarking—easily filling the dim spaces between trees with its pale haze. It falls gently on the leafy canopy above, falling through in places, tap-tapping its dance on the leaves of the forest floor. Tiny drops now misting onto my face and arms, the strange and refreshing coolness bring new life to the forest, and who walk its paths.
Walking out into a clearing now, the rain falls down steadily, faithfully, tiny drops on my face as I look up to the clouds high above. Back into the forest and the soft murmur continues, awakening newness in a forest preparing for the long night—new smells of freshness, new springiness in the twigs and branches, new waters of life to the roots of great trees deep within the earth.
Why are we afraid to walk out in the rain? It’s summer, and it’s raining! No need to fear the water today. Have we become so accustomed to the fake skies of our homes?
And slowly it comes, rising up like the almost imperceptible sound of a too-distant train, slowly building, growing, until it crashes in and overwhelms, ringing out all around. The sound of seconds ticking by as on a great clock; of the great sphere I’m walking sweeping its giant turns through the heavens; of a single drop of rain liberated from a cloud thousands of feet up, plunging towards earth, sounding a tiny unheard whistling as it picks up speed, crashing into one, two, twenty other rain drops on its long flight down, growing as it merges, picking up speed, finally ending in a soft splash on my forehead, just above my left eye; of ten-thousand tiny rain drops hurtling towards earth, dripping and dropping, splittering and splattering on my arms and neck and head and shirt and the trees and leaves of the forest floor all around.
Maybe a half-mile to go now and it’s no longer drizzling—it is pouring. Rain envelops me, falls from my face, flows down my arms, flinging from five fingertips with each swing of the arm. It is beautiful, natural. It’s nearly night now, and through the downpour and failing light I can barely make out the bend in the forest path up ahead.
There is joy in the forest. And I can hear it. And it has soaked me through.