The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

How Mama Hated Rain

By Virginia L. Kroll © 1989

Issue: January, 1989

There were few things Mama hated more than rain - in any form. Drizzle dampened her enthusiasm. Sprinkling made her sleepy. Mist made her moodiest of all. It was just enough to ruin the day, she said, because it kept you guessing. Downpours were at least straight forward enough to make you give up any hope of leaving the house.

"Why don't you buy an umbrella?" Papa had suggested once.

"Because I'd never use it, that's why," Mama answered.

The few times Mama actually had to leave the house on wet days, it was funny to watch her. She'd dash to the car with her coat over her head instead of her, as if she was afraid she'd melt if a drop fell on her.

One summer during vacation, it rained for a straight week. I thought mama would go crazy for sure. After five days, I started getting bored, and I think my baby sister was restless, too.

Mama wrote lots of letters and baked lots of cookies. She sewed a colorful quilt for Aunt Bonnie, who was due to have her baby in a month. "How's this for a gift?" she asked, holding it up for me to see.

"It's beautiful!" I exclaimed. "Are you going to give it to her next week at the shower?"

"Yes." Then she shuddered at my last word. "Shower! Don't remind me; I can't stand this rain anymore. It's really making me irritable!"

She didn't have to tell me that.

By mid-afternoon we were all cranky. Mama said we had something called "cabin fever" from staying in too much. Suddenly I had an idea. At that point, anything was worth a try.

"Let's round up the raincoats," I said.

"Round up the raincoats," I repeated, "and go outside."

"What would we do with the baby?" Mama argued an excuse.

"She can wear my old pink raincoat," I offered. "It's still hanging in my closet; I'll go get it."

I waited. Mama looked thoughtfully for a moment. "Well, all right, anything's better than staying inside, I guess."

I couldn't believe my ears. Mama must be desperate! I ran to get the raincoats and rain hats before Mama changed her mind.

"I'm all ready," I said.

"This pink coat is a little large for Katya," Mama said. I held my breath.

"...but the bigger the better," she continued. "It will cover more of her."

Now the problem was finding something for Mama. "Why don't you wear this?" I said, pointing to Papa's hooded rain cape that he wore to football games.

Mama tried it on. "It's huge," she said, flapping her arms.

"The bigger the better," I said.

Mama laughed and tugged on one of my braids. "You win, Hannah; all set?"

When Mama put Katya in her stroller, she squealed with joy. She kept reaching up to catch the raindrops, then clapping her wet little hands together.

A voice yelled out, "Hello, fellow rain lovers!" We peaked out from under our head coverings. It was Mrs. Halvorsen, our neighbor, cutting fresh roses.

"Look," Mama said suddenly, pointing to a blackbird in a tree. "Why is that bird puffing up his feathers like that?"

"Oh that's a grackle," chuckled Mrs. Halvorsen, "they always do that in the rain. Just rearranging their insulation, you might say."

The rain let up a little; it was drizzling pleasantly. We walked a little farther, and I said, "Mama there's a robin."

"Shh," she replied. We quietly watched the orange-breasted bird tug an earthworm from the soggy ground. "I'll bet it has a nest nearby."

Pretty soon the robin landed on an evergreen, looked around to make sure it was safe, then flew to its nest in an oak. Two tiny heads with wide mouths poked up. Seconds later, the robin was catching worms again.

Two squirrels scampered right in front of us. "Doesn't look like the rain bothers them," Mama said. "They actually seem to enjoy it!"

The more we walked, the more Mama acted like one of the creatures who loved the rain. She liked how the drops danced on the sidewalk as she stepped and how the stroller swished through the water. We ran through a deep puddle and really got splashed. We were all laughing - Mama, Katya, and me.

The rain turned to mist, but there were still puddles everywhere. We decided to walk through the playground.

"Look!" I exclaimed. Something small was darting back and forth across a puddle faster than our eyes could focus. "What's that?"

"It's a whirligig beetle!" Mama said excitedly. "I learned about them in science once, but I never saw one before. This is like a whole new world out here!"

Katya bounced in her stroller, trying to point at the zigzagging bug.

Mama did a silly dance. "Listen to my sneakers squishing and a squashing."

I imitated Mama. Katya was clapping again. Her chubby legs were moving rapidly back and forth.

"Look, Mama," I laughed. "Katya's doing the Squish-Squash, too."

We started toward home. Part of the sky cleared, and everything looked a little brighter. Suddenly mama stopped the stroller. Katya whined a protest. I looked up at Mama.

"Look," she whispered, "I never saw one before."

My eyes followed Mama's. In front of the dark gray clouds was a pastel arch that went from one end of the world to the other.

Mama bent down and pointed Katya's head in the right direction so she could see it, too. When she got up again, there were drops on her face, even though the rain had stopped completely several minutes before.

Mama watched the arch until it completely disappeared. I watched Mama's face. I wondered what she was going to say when she finally spoke.

"Thank you for the rainbow, Hannah."

"You're welcome, Mama," I replied. I knew that I hadn't really given her a rainbow, but I was glad that she thought so, anyway.