Of course, you’ve noticed there’s more than one type of rain. It falls at different rates in different amounts and is usually driven by various wind forces. It may come for a few moments or for days. Droplets quickly complete their journey from the heavens, their energies dissipating as they strike a myriad of surfaces. The sounds created by those impacts add further character to the type of rain that is falling.
I like all types of rain; the crater producing droplets that pour from a huge coastal thunderhead and the mists of dampness that surround me in high Andean Mountain passes. One of my favorite kinds of rain is a soft and steady lighter rain on a cloudy afternoon. It wraps me in a soft cocoon of a mood. For me, this type of rain, when it comes, soothes the world. It brings its own unique hush to the environment. I enjoy the rain and I’m curious about the behaviors of others. The combination often sends me puddle hopping during the soft pitter-patter sounds. Mood-wise I’m most affected by those softer, less frequent drops; like the type falling the afternoon I met the rain walker.
During a rainy day, while traveling for photography in Ecuador, Edie and I were lamenting cramped quarters in a small town in an even smaller room. I felt antsy; my Kindle was no longer satisfying me. A few hands of cards was all I had been able to muster the attention for. I donned my Ark’teryx rain gear and shoved a camera/lens combo under my jacket. I didn’t even bother with a bag since I really didn’t want to be noticed. Walking around town for fifteen minutes, I only encountered a lone tuk-tuk driver. He was parked along a weedy, trash-strewn street that constituted the main drag of the town. I stationed myself under the lone tree along the street as I urged a Mentita from its green foil wrapper and into my mouth. Photography is a game of many variables; waiting is a dominant component.
Moments turned to minutes and, soon enough, a quarter hour had passed. The tapping of his staff announced his presence before he emerged from a small alley jutting off the street. I had already eased my camera from under my jacket in preparation for a photograph but the composition afforded was devoid of substance. The man looked up as I lowered my gear and we both smiled naturally and simultaneously. He paused under the shelter of the lone tree, that I had also taken up, and our conversation began.
Rummaging, he produced a pair of large mandarinas from a bag he carried. I gratefully accepted his offer as the mentitas weren’t cutting it for me that afternoon. I questioned what brought him out of the drier comforts of home and into the rain to which he quickly explained that he preferred the rain over the sun. I barely had enough Spanish to hang on as he was dropping letters and what seemed syllables during our discourse. But, I had enough comprehension to understand we had a common thread in our life fabrics; we both liked the rain. The man scoffed at the idea of an umbrella, saying you’d be lugging one around forever based on the frequency of local showers. He said that he and his clothing were cleansed by rain but that he experienced a cleansing of mood also. He explained that the sun and wind were provided to dry a person off. No towels were needed. The man spoke of the disconnection he would feel from the world if he denied himself the simple pleasures offered by a walk on a rainy afternoon. We had a good connection and his demeanor reflected an awareness of the same. It was more than enough for a hug and some back patting as we parted company with easy laughter that afternoon.
His shoed but sock-less feet crunched the gravel by the edge of the roadway. That sound was punctuated by the tap of his staff as he walked away, into the rain and out of my life again. I had made another memory that afternoon in the rural byways of Ecuador. And I had encountered that thread of common fabrics that remind us, as people, we are more alike than different. It was almost an afterthought as my camera swung up and locked on to another wanderer of pitter-patter land, a peaceful place indeed. For me, it’s a setting always laden with opportunities for new experiences, friends and photographs in the softness of the afternoon light.