Archive for February, 2023

It’s not always bad news…

Reason #23- Gadgets and Gizmos

A gadget, AKA gizmo, is defined by Dictionary.com as a “mechanical contrivance or device; any ingenious article.”  Ingenious seems to be the key word for making us happy. 

A quick on-line search found just about as many articles about how technology and gadgets can make someone unhappy as there were for the happiness camp.  I submit that if you view a gadget just as a tool to get something done, happiness might not even be considered in the equation.  But, if a device is ingenious, the wonder and awe of it and its inventor can be euphoric.  That’s why so many tool sheds and kitchens are filled with gizmos and weird tools that may never be used.  Before I became a full-time RVer, I was a member of that club.  However, there’s just no room in my fifth wheel for gadgets I won’t ever use.

For myself, I keep a plastic miter box in my truck’s tool cabinet because I never know when I might need to cut a piece of trim.  I have actually used it three times in the two years we’ve been on the road.  My other gadget pleasure is a tube of bungee straps of every size and shape.  Interestingly, there are specialty straps made for specific tie-down solutions, such as for use with grommets in tarps and screens, with tent pegs and for multi-girth items.  I love using them.

Gadgets have always intrigued movie-goers and TV fans, and Hollywood hasn’t disappointed.  Inspector Gadget, an animated series that began in 1983 and a 1999 movie, was a cyborg human with various bionic gadgets built into his body, though they often malfunctioned. 

The polar opposite would have to be James Bond, who was given neat new gizmos by “Q” during each movie in the franchise, which nearly always proved to be useful or life-saving as the plot developed.  The first Bond gadget was a Geiger counter, and that evolved to several versions of his briefcase, a phone-tap detector, a dagger-tipped shoe, a garrote wire and a laser cutting watch, homing beacons and pills, a miniature SCUBA set, in-air and underwater jetpacks, mini-rocket and cyanide cigarettes, cigarette guns, and so many more. It just wouldn’t have been a 007 movie without them.

Science fiction has always had to develop new gadgets as visions of life in the future, such as the automatic doors in Star Trek, paper computers in Mission Impossible, spy contact lenses in I Spy, flying cars in Blade Runner/Fifth Element/hundreds of others, the neuralizer in Men in Black, Back to the Future’s hoverboard, and the ultimate gadget- the Star Wars lightsaber.  I wouldn’t mind having a few of these…

Innovation is almost always appreciated, but innovative gadgets always make you happy.


As usual, I’ll end this piece with a quote, this time from American writer Roger Zelazny:  “I have a fondness for technology. It’s great to spend hours puttering around with mechanical things gotten from junkyards and visualizing what their use might be. Especially if you come across a gadget or tool and you don’t know what it is and you try to figure it out. I’m fascinated by processes, whatever they might be.

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Reason #22- Back Roads

From the first moment I received my driver’s license when I was a 16-year-old kid in Southern California, the back roads were calling me.  Perhaps that was because of the crowded city life, or perhaps I longed to be free from the congestion of L.A. traffic.  One thing was sure, once I took off for my first exploration of the Mojave Desert, I’ve always tried to avoid Interstates and major highways.

Now, freeways do have a great purpose — they get you from point A to point B in the fastest time possible, even if some of that time is spent in bumper-to-bumper traffic.  On a long trip, to completely avoid Interstates may add days to the journey, perhaps not a problem if you are retired, but definitely a consideration if just on vacation.  You can always count on gas stations, truck stops and fast food, not to mention bathrooms, along a freeway or highway, not so much on the less-traveled roads.  However, on the freeways, what you miss!

Dictionary.com defines a back road as “a little-used secondary road, especially one through a rural or sparsely populated area.”  The “rural” part is what makes it fun.  From the forest roads of Colorado to the country hamlets of Upstate New York, from Texas’ narrow “farm-to-market” routes to Oregon’s scenic coastal byways, the pure pleasure of seeing nature, wildlife, country living, farmland and quaint Main Streets is totally absent from a jaunt on I-70 or I-95.

Certainly, half the fun of parking our fifth wheel in a new (for us) region of the country, even during the pandemic’s “stay-in-place” orders, is exploring from our truck without any destination in mind (we often self-quarantined in the pickup), and our satellite navigation system almost completely ensures we won’t get lost. 

The quirky “World’s Largest” items in rural towns, the awe-inspiring fields of kinetic sculptures, the pure majesty of a redwood forest or a rugged coastline, the jaw-dropping views of the tallest jagged peaks, or a thunderstorm you can see 50 miles away, all of these things are experiences most likely missed on an Interstate highway.  I take most of my photos of landscapes, wildlife, wildflowers and interesting rural scenes on these expeditions on back roads.

Something interesting to do, which we plan on attempting in the future, is to take U.S. Routes 66 and 20 from end to end.  The famous Route 66 was one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System and begins and ends in Santa Monica, Calif., to the west and Chicago, Ill., to the north.  Most of us have been on parts of this historic highway already, but few have taken it from start to finish.  Likewise, Route 20 is truly coast-to-coast, spanning 3,365 miles with endpoints in Boston, Mass., and Newport, Ore.  Our living in Western New York gave us glimpses of this rural highway and we saw much of the western portion when we camped in Oregon.  Both of these routes have been usurped in some sections by freeway, and it can be quite a task to try to stay on the original routes as much as possible, but even that process can be fun (if you like maps and navigation).


My ending quote for this topic comes from Down Under, where Australian writer Robyn Davidson said, “By taking to the road, we free ourselves of baggage, both physical and psychological. We walk back to our original condition, to our best selves.

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Reason #21- The Internet

Hardly any waking moment goes by when I’m not using the Internet in some way.  That got me to thinking about it, my 30+ years in IT notwithstanding.  Life as we know it would not be possible without the Internet.  First, a short history might be in order.

[Some of the following was paraphrased from Wikipedia.]  Early packet switching networks [a “packet” of data is what computers use to communicate with each other and around a network] such as the NPL network, ARPANET, Merit Network and CYCLADES in the early 1970s researched and provided data networking. The ARPANET project and international working groups led to the development of protocols for inter-networking, in which multiple separate networks could be joined into a network of networks, which produced various standards. Research was published in 1973 that evolved into the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), the two protocols of the Internet protocol suite. [You’ve probably seen “TCP/IP.”]

In the early 1980s the National Science Foundation funded national supercomputing centers at several universities in the United States and provided interconnectivity in 1986 with the NSFNET project, which created network access to these supercomputer sites for research and academic organizations in the United States. International connections to NSFNET, the emergence of architecture such as the Domain Name System, and the adoption of TCP/IP internationally, marked the beginnings of the Internet.

Commercial Internet service providers (ISPs) began to emerge in the very late 1980s. The ARPANET was decommissioned in 1990 and the NSFNET was decommissioned in 1995, removing the last restrictions on the use of the Internet to carry commercial traffic. Commercial entities began marketing Internet access, content design, telephone and communications platforms, search engines and sales platforms.  Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, and all the other hugely successful web companies all owe that success to the National Science Foundation and ARPANET.

Today, the uses of the Internet are as numerous as the number of people on the planet.  The top dozen most common uses, according to several reporting sites, are:  email, research, downloading files, discussion groups, interactive games, education and self-improvement, movie/music/video streaming, friendship and dating, electronic newspapers and magazines, politicking, job hunting and shopping. 

Specific uses can be inferred from this list, such as virtual health appointments, maps and navigation, virtual meetings and teleconferencing, social media and long-distance family interactions.

Like most people, there are times when I think the Internet is a pain, allowing anyone with a brain and access to spout any ideology they see fit, and the brain part may seem lacking.  However, just maintaining long-distance family relationships can make all the difference in someone’s life.  The COVID-19 pandemic and the latest social injustice are two examples of events that bring us together utilizing the one communications service that seems to have been developed for just such occasions.

Would I be a published author without the Internet?  Chances are slim.  How easily could I share my 30,000 photos [now over 50,000] with the public?  I’ve often referred to the Internet as my virtual memory, with nearly everything I would ever want to know at my fingertips.  My blog would likely never have happened either, nor supplementing our income while living in an RV on the road.  Like I said, life like we know it would simply not be possible.


My closing quote for this subject is from Tom Wolfe, an American journalist, who said, “Once you have speech, you don’t have to wait for natural selection! If you want more strength, you build a stealth bomber; if you don’t like bacteria, you invent penicillin; if you want to communicate faster, you invent the Internet. Once speech evolved, all of human life changed.

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Reason #20- Gardening

When I was ten, we moved across the city to a house on a triangular lot with plenty of back yard.  After I turned 12, I convinced my mom to let me take the far corner space behind a fence and grape vines, overgrown with weeds and the neighbor’s ivy, and till it for a vegetable garden.  I grabbed my brothers and a sister, ages 7 to 10, and we all went out and worked that dirt until it was clear and ready to plant, making sure we didn’t disturb the old rhubarb plant.  My mom told me to make raised rows to plant seeds in, leaving lower rows for watering, and we excitedly bought the seeds at the hardware store.

We planted radishes, zucchini, carrots, iceberg and green-leaf lettuce, bell peppers, sweet corn and pumpkins.  The two weeks or so waiting for the first signs of growth felt like the week before Christmas — like it would never arrive.  When it finally did, all us kids kept it weeded and watered until we began harvesting our bounty.  Did they ever taste great!  A couple of months after the final veggies were taken, I was looking through the garden, reminiscing and planning for the next planting, I noticed something odd under the zucchini bushes.  I reached down and pulled out the biggest zucchini I had ever seen, probably 2 feet long and 6 inches wide.  Evidently every one of us had missed this one on our multiple picking sessions.

Outdoor gardening has many more benefits besides harvesting produce.  Your skin actually turns sunlight into a nutrient, much like the plants you are working with.  Vitamin D is essential for hundreds of body functions, including strengthening bones and your immune system, and can lower the risk of several cancers and multiple sclerosis.  Low levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of several health conditions, including type II diabetes and dementia.  Overexposure, however, puts you at greater risk of skin cancer, so you must either limit your sunshine or take other precautions.

Depending on the type of gardening you are participating in, various activities help exertion and exercise in several muscle groups, sometimes moderate to strenuous (like shoveling, digging or chopping wood), but even light exercise is beneficial.  Gardening can also brighten your mood, help you recover from a depression or calm your body after a stressful event.  Likewise if you are suffering from addiction. 

Over the years I’ve lived in several houses, planted many a garden and grown dozens of fruit trees.  The satisfaction of successful blooms and the birds, butterflies and hummingbirds they draw to us is like no other feeling.  It is especially gratifying when you have selected the perfect mixture of colors, heights and duration of flowers, shrubs and grasses for the intended space.  Even full-time on the road I put out feeders to draw birds to us, and, when we finally settle down in a home base, gardens will be cultivated.


I’ll end this topic with a quote from Alfred Austin, an English poet who lived at the turn of the 20th century:  “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.

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Reason #19- Photographs

The word “photography” comes from the Greek phrase “Drawing the Light.”  We all know that photography in the 19th century was cumbersome and time-consuming, and required technicians trained in the art form.  But the photograms and photographs taken in those decades have provided an incredible and invaluable window into life back then.  Color photos began to be produced by the mid-1880s and the first widely used color process hit the market in 1907.

When cameras were developed that used roll film, photography became more widespread and amateurs were able to experience the joy of the hobby.  Some were good enough or wealthy enough to go pro, which required more elaborate and expensive equipment.  That’s still somewhat true today, with the biggest difference between talented amateurs and professional photojournalists being the cost of their camera ensemble.  Of course, today nobody uses film.  For the younger readers, film was a medium, usually on a roll, that was placed inside of the camera, which was subjected to the light through the camera lens to produce either a film negative or slide positive image.  Film then had to be developed by being taken to a film lab or, for a fortunate few, handled in their own lab, to produce paper photographs.  Now, digital photography is the sole media everywhere — cameras, phones, watches, tablets, even dashboards in cars and trucks.

Photographs, whether paper or digital, are both useful and delightful for documenting family history and events, but also for capturing memorable times and places and documenting a person’s life from birth to death.  It is also quite valuable in capturing moments in nature, often providing views few individuals would ever otherwise see.  Landscapes, cityscapes, oceanscapes, and skyscapes make up an incredible library of earth-based galleries, and for the past 50 years, outer space has provided a plethora of planet shots and other scenes from the universe.

I once wrote a blog piece called, “In many ways, photos can offer more than video,” about why I prefer still photos over video.  In that article, I explain my opinion that video is spoon-fed to viewers, always making them focus on the movement and thinking about what the videographer intends.  Photographs give a viewer time to think, time to explore the picture, time to remember similar sights, time to see what they can see and, more importantly, time to feel. 

Even though I’ve been recording video lately, I continue to feel it’s true.  A photographer also has more leeway to exclude and frame a shot.  If you have ever seen a photo of a place you are familiar with, you might have had the feeling that the photo seemed more startling, colorful, insightful, clean or unusual than you remember.  You experienced the photographer’s eye.

My favorite photos?  I love historic photography and magnificent landscapes, and I love to shoot abandoned buildings, birds, wildflowers, sunrises, sunsets and vivid shots of nature.  I like family photos for their nostalgia, but still prefer nature.


There is no one better to quote about photography than the ultimate landscape photographer and environmentalist, Ansel Adams:  “To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.


Jack’s note: Regarding my comment that nobody is using film any longer, I saw a news report this week that said that there has been a new resurgence in cameras using black-and-white and color film by both pro and amateur photographers. Evidently, they prefer the softer hues and quality of film medium compared to digital photos.

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Reason #18- Chocolate

Devil’s food cake with dark chocolate frosting — that’s my all-time favorite dessert.  Like most people, I’ve had a love affair with the cocoa bean as long as I can remember.  Why do we love chocolate so?

Quora.com explains it this way:  “The basic fact that chocolate tastes good and we enjoy eating it means that the body releases dopamine during chocolate consumption. … Chocolate also contains theobromine, a chemical known to increase heart rate and energy, as well as arousal.”  Dopamine is the same chemical our brains release during sex, an adventurous experience or an especially gregarious laugh.  Enough said.

Lovers give chocolate when jewelry just won’t do.  According to History.com, almost 60 million pounds of chocolate are purchased in the U.S. during Valentine’s Day week, proving an instinctual knowledge that the treat is a very successful way to someone’s heart.  Rich chocolate pairs with red wine splendidly, each enhancing the other and bringing an almost euphoric reaction to the taste.  For good reason, a box of chocolates (“You never know what you’re going to get.”) is a staple for any husband in the doghouse.  Only chocolate or chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream will do for binging after a break-up.  Attend any convention’s social hour and watch the crowd gather around the chocolate fountain with glee.

As much as you might like chocolate, it might be satisfying to know that there are a multitude of health benefits to indulging.  Studies have shown that the flavonoids in chocolate can help keep your veins and arteries supple.  Results also showed that participants in studies who were given several helpings of dark chocolate each week had significantly lowered their risk of heart attacks and strokes.  One study even showed a lower risk of severe sunburn!  Flavanols in hot cocoa provided an increased flow of blood to the brain and improved math skills.  Subjects given bars of dark chocolate were shown to have overall lower LDL cholesterol levels.  One extract from cocoa, lavado, can actually reduce the damage done to vital pathways to the brain by Alzheimer’s disease.  Chocolate can help to lower your blood pressure and increase endorphins, thereby helping prevent depression and other mental disorders.

It’s been proven that white chocolate does not affect the brain the same as its brown counterpart and that you generally don’t crave sweeter chocolate more than other types.  In fact, chocolate that is less sweet also has less calories, and dark, smooth, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate can change your outlook on your whole day.  We also know that having a small portion of dark chocolate can reduce food cravings, potentially saving you from binging on higher calorie treats.

I believe that if Hershey, Ghirardelli and Mars were to all shut down at once, no pandemic could match our collective reaction. Congress would act immediately to stem the crisis and the President would sign whatever bill he or she was presented, partisan politics be damned.


My ending quote for this topic comes from British comedian Tommy Cooper: “My wife said, ‘Take me in your arms and whisper something soft and sweet.’  I said, ‘chocolate fudge.’

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Reason #17- Glorious Sunsets

Previously, I had written about sunrises and how they are different from sunsets, and they are.  Sunrises tend to be more brilliant than their evening counterparts, but typically don’t come close to number and variety of shades and hues than the equivalent sunsets.  By “equivalent,” I mean that the weather and landscape allow the best view possible for both scenes, morning or evening. In many locations in the country, mountains and forest can completely obscure sunsets from view, as can heavy clouds, precipitation and other weather-related phenomena.  Ironically, some clouds make both sunrises and sunsets much more dramatic than clear skies.

But, let’s be honest.  Glorious sunsets can be so moving as to deserve their own happiness category.  I would compare sunsets with rainbows, which can have a spiritual effect on those who are fortunate enough to observe them, especially following extreme weather or rainstorms.  When conditions are right and the ability to stop and gaze is present, it can be an awe-inspiring experience.

Colorful sunsets happen when the sun dips toward the horizon and its light has to travel through a greater distance of atmosphere before reaching our eyes.  In so doing, blue light, as well as some green and yellow light, gets filtered out, leaving reds and oranges to continue in their place, and we can enjoy an abundance of those hues.  Just about the only time you can see a red or orange sky is during a glorious sunset.

Like rainbows, which have been considered through the ages as a renewal or peace after tumultuous times, sunsets can symbolize the same at the end of a long day.  They can represent the passage of time, the beauty of life and nature, and even the promise of romance.  As the sun sets, light fades, which is symbolic of the forces of darkness.

I especially love sunsets beyond bodies of water, like the ocean or large lake, and am usually excited at that prospect when we arrive in such a location.  One of the few disappointments of camping in the forest is that sunsets are almost certain to avoid us, just beyond the mountains and tree canopies.

Let’s not forget, when comparing to sunrises, that we are far more likely to be up and awake for a sunset.  Especially in the summer months, sunrises are seriously ahead of my usual wake-up hour, making it a chore to see them, even with a good plan.  However, I’m nearly always awake and ready for a dusk-time show.

Probably the best thing about a sunset, though, is the sheer surprise of the spectacle.  No matter how many you may have seen over your lifetime, a beautiful sunset can seem like a miracle or an epiphany.  The more glorious the view, the more astonishing it seems.  I read a conversation online about how some people look to predict the best sunsets for planning the best time and place for viewing.  This seems counterproductive to me, unless I am trying for sunset photos, for the surprise of the show is as awe-inspiring as the show itself.


I’ll leave the subject with some words from pop and Gospel singer/musician Amy Grant, who said, “Get outside. Watch the sunrise. Watch the sunset. How does that make you feel? Does it make you feel big or tiny? Because there’s something good about feeling both.

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Reason #16- Country Fairs

According to Wikipedia, the first known agricultural show was held by Salford Agricultural Society, Lancashire, in 1768.  Lancashire is a county in a far northern section of England.  Agricultural shows evolved to country fairs and, in America, they are mostly state and county fairs.  These annual events usually include a livestock show and auction, a trade fair, competitions among local residents, and entertainment, including live music by local artists and headliners, a carnival and a great many vendors serving what is now called “fair food.”  Often a rodeo is held in conjunction with the fair, and we’ve even seen auto racing, monster truck shows and demolition derbies get in on the event calendars.  Let’s not forget about the carnival rides and midway.

We usually avoid state fairs because they are usually more crowded than their county cousins.  It is especially fun to visit rural, small-town fairs.  The entertainment is not normally nationally headlining acts, but I have seen Roger Miller, the Smothers and Righteous Brothers (an awesome combination), Little River Band, Anne Murray and other previously big-time artists in the smaller venues.

Otherwise, my favorite sections in the fair are the animals being shown and the collections of all kinds, including the most random things you can think of.  Besides the usual (e.g., rocks, gems, quilts, stamps and coins), we’ve seen Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind memorabilia, antique camping gear, and even dryer lint collections.  You just never know what you’re going to see.  Local residents yearning to win a blue ribbon is not just a cliché.  Many spend hours and hours all year to compete in their chosen hobby, be it baking, sewing, pickling, floral arrangement or other skill, and the quality of their displays and products is usually quite remarkable.

Fair food has become its own genre, and many fairs compete with the craziest things they could batter and deep fry.  The last one we attended had just begun to serve deep-fried beer and deep-fried butter.  Often, though, fair favorites are fresh corn-on-the-cob, funnel cakes, corn dogs and the always popular barbecued turkey legs.  Some people attend fairs just for the food.

When my kids were young, the carnival at the county fair was in the front of their minds from the time it first showed on TV commercials during summer until we took them in September when it was finally open.  These traveling shows were a bit scary to adults, especially the carnies working the rides and booths, but the kids always had a blast, getting on as many amusement park rides as we could afford.

If you don’t mind neighbors, animals, walking or high-calorie food, there isn’t much that is more enjoyable than a day at the fair.  I highly recommend it!


It just so happens that Roger Miller wrote a song or two about country fairs.  My ending quote is from one such song, The Tom Green County Fair:  “Well, a Sunday at the fair can make a memory more valuable than gold, especially when you’re 10 years old.

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Reason #15- Best Friends

One of the common threads between people of all walks of life is that of having one or more best friends.  It is quite possible to maintain this type of connection throughout one’s life, even as other types of relationships come and go.  Most of the outstanding marriages I have seen are between best friends.

With most people, their first bestie comes along very young, possibly in kindergarten or first grade.  Life is difficult, as are older siblings, if any, and sharing good and bad times with a friend is as natural as breathing.  I’m no psychologist, but I imagine that the tendency to seek out a best friend is hardwired into our collective psyche.  Life happens, and sometimes very young friends are separated by moving, a falling out or simply growing apart.  This happens with grade school friends, too, even with high school friends, but the older they get, the more best friends are apt to stay in contact.  College or adult life, work, recreation and other natural gathering places may supply multiple very good friends and the ones that stick it out through bad times often become your favorites.

The one prerequisite “best friends” seems to have is to support one another despite the circumstances — always having each other’s back.  You don’t owe one another any favors.  In fact, you don’t even keep count.  Fair weather friends just can’t compete for your time and attention.  When a best friend calls, you drop everything.  Maybe this is why best friends make such good married or committed couples.  

My first best friend was Kenny Hakida when I was 5 years old.  He lived next door to my grandparents, which was a long, two-mile walk from my house at the time.  We moved 40 miles away when I was 10 and I never saw Kenny again.  I later learned that his parents had been among those Japanese-Americans interned in World War II after Pearl Harbor, but I never got the chance to talk to them about it.

I had a few other best friends in my adolescence and in high school in Southern California, but many of them went to out-of-state colleges, while I got married and had kids.  Moving a thousand miles away meant the end of most of those relationships.  In Washington State, my younger brother filled that role, through bowling, karaoke, camping, fishing and other activities we both enjoyed.  He’s the taller one in my karaoke photo below. 

After a few years I moved across the country to be close to, and eventually marry, my truly remarkable best friend, Nadyne, and we were together for 22 years before she passed.

I envy the good friends of today, with all of that technology available to help stay in touch.  In my younger days, even long-distance phone calls were very expensive, let alone trying to see one another.  If we had had the Internet, free long distance, Facebook, Zoom, Skype, GroupMe or any other of the seemingly magical communications they have now, maybe my old friends wouldn’t be strangers today.

Thankfully, my wife and I had each other to lean on in close quarters during the pandemic lockdown.  If it weren’t for that relationship, who knows how well we would have survived it.


My ending quote comes from an Israeli psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, who said, “Friends are sometimes a big help when they share your feelings. In the context of decisions, the friends who will serve you best are those who understand your feelings but are not overly impressed by them.

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Reason #14- Rain

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved the rain.  Contrary to popular belief, it does rain in Southern California, but as a kid it was even better when it poured.  I could hardly wait until I could go outside and get soaking wet.  Springtime brought the rain back then, and the old adage seemed to be true:  April showers bring May flowers.

There are many more reasons I love the rain now.  Having lived through severe droughts, rain still brings an almost automatic reflex of relief.  It is the one weather event that happens worldwide, so it can help you feel connected to the earth no matter where you are, much like seeing the moon or stars can do for you at night.  It represents sustaining life in so many ways.

Living beings require water to live, even more than food, and rain is how we get all of our fresh water.  A shower can give a sense of cleansing, of washing away the grime of life, of washing away our sins.  After a good rain, our mood is almost always lifted.  There is a reason for the popularity of Dancing in the Rain.  During a drenching rain storm, most of us are forced to stay indoors, giving us an excuse to snuggle up with our mate or kids in front of a fire, drink hot chocolate, make some popcorn and watch a new or a favorite movie.  Stormy nights remind us of the power and awe of nature, of the good and bad of it, and this is exaggerated when roaring thunder shakes the house.

Rain pours through the atmosphere, cooling and humidifying hot air, warming ambient cold air in winter months, and clings to specks of pollution to literally condition the air around us.  It moisturizes your skin and cleanses plant leaves.  It adds moisture to farms’ soil, helps leach salts down beyond the root zone and the rivers it creates are dammed for hydroelectric power.

But the thing I like most about the rain is its sound.  If you’ve never fallen to sleep to the soothing pitter-patter of rain on the roof above you, you’ve really missed out.  Of course, a hard rain or hail pounding on a metal roof can be deafening but awe-inspiring.

Ever notice how quickly the scenery greens up after a summer rain?  Is there anything more precious than seeing a group of school-aged children in rain coats and boots stomping in puddles?  Every see a child’s face the first time you tell them that it’s raining cats and dogs?  Interestingly, the source of that phrase is unknown.  It might have its roots in Norse mythology, medieval superstitions, the obsolete word catadupe (waterfall), or dead animals in the streets of Britain being picked up by storm waters.  We do know that Richard Brome, an English playwright, wrote in his 1652 comedy, City Witt, “It shall rain dogs and polecats.”  However, a polecat back then was more related to a weasel than a cat.

What I miss most about living in Kansas are the summer storms.  Though often severe, we haven’t experienced anything even close to it since we moved away [except occasionally in Texas].  It always reminded me that without rain, there is no rainbow.


My closing quote for this topic is from American poet Langston Hughes, who wrote, “Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

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