Winter Rain & Cookies

Rainy Day Bicycle

Rainy Day Bicycle

In the southern hemisphere, May means Winter’s settling in, and it’s starting to shape up like last year, which by all accounts was like any year. When winter hits in Auckland, it rains. And it keeps raining, and when it isn’t raining, it’s just damp. That’s the way the climate goes, but it’s all building up credit for summer, I like to think.

Winter wet is enough to wash the joy off faces. Carefree summer gives way to careful driving, carrying an umbrella, and planning to wear whichever shoes are currently most dry and have the best chance of keeping the water off your feet. If you haven’t tuned in to the weather forecast, just look at what folks got covering their toes; people are pretty good barometers.

Today it’s pouring again. I’ve got a load of wet laundry in a basket in the kitchen, waiting to get hung on the line when the clouds break. (Electric dryers are a species of appliance rare to spot in New Zealand.) Noodle comes by and pokes the basket from time to time, I imagine because he wants to play in it. “Not today, Noodle. Daddy didn’t plan ahead quite right.” That kind of information sure makes it harder for a little boy to crack a smile.

He wants to go outside, so I let him. He’ll work out quick enough that it ain’t what it cracked up to be out there, and he’ll duck back in as if he’s bored with his prospects. Kids are like cats that way; they make like they mean every little twitch.

I checked the forecast and it says 40% chance of rain. You learn pretty quick that they mean it’ll rain 40% of the time, not that you can lay odds on staying dry. I think it was Mark Twain who once said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait 15 minutes.” He could just as well have written that sentence in Auckland.

On rainy days the boy doesn’t get to burn off his cookies and juice outside, so we have to adjust to an indoor climate. You can run inside the house as well as you can outside, turns out. But the dashes are shorter and the floors thump hard enough to wake the neighbors. The house is a resonator, akin to a music box or a spruce top guitar; a twist or a pluck and the whole structure sings the little boy’s joy — and sooner than later, your frustration

Seems that things always escalate and the jumping gets too hard, or the running goes too far, and someone bumps a head or elbow, or scrapes a knee or bangs a toe. But I’ve got a secret way to stop the tears: keep a sleeve of cookies in the fridge and tell him he can climb up and get ’em when he feels up to it. Amazing how quick kids heal these days.

Here we are vrooming cars, stacking block houses, and generally carousing all over our make-believe town. Next time that 60% not-raining rolls through, we’ll splash out to the car and dash to and through the supermarket to replenish the cookie stock. Unlike too many locals who watch their figures more than their visage, cookies keep grins decorating our faces on rainy days. Come summer though, we’ll be back on the ice cream.

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On Staying Awake