Wineka column: Enjoying the rhythms of a rainy night in North Carolina

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My wife went to bed early Tuesday night, leaving me with the dogs, the remote control and the weird sound, after these desert-like summers, of a steady rain.
Thinking the dogs needed relief, I found an umbrella, clamored through the garage and walked down our long driveway while the animals ó always underfoot ó tended to business.
The moisture from the downpour seeped into my lungs and felt good. I was wearing flip-flops, so the water bounced off the pavement and sprayed my feet and the cuffs of my long pants.
It felt good, too.
The best part about this rain, I thought, was how constant it was and had been all day. This wasn’t just a shower. Didn’t we used to have these kinds of long rains when the water saturated the ground so much that it forced the nightcrawlers (earthworms) to the surface for air?
That’s when we would grab them as kids and put the worms into a coffee can filled with dirt and pieces of newspaper. My grandmother always had a coffee can of nightcrawlers in her refrigerator for future fishing trips.
The dogs had enough of the rain, and I followed them back inside. I settled into the living room recliner and changed the television stations between the Democratic National Convention and a couple of baseball games.
But I kept hearing the rain. I turned out most of the lights, opened the back door about halfway, and the sound of the rain filtered in louder as I sat back in the recliner.
It was comforting, this sound. It was like the world was gulping down a big drink and couldn’t get enough. I sensed the water making its way toward the roots of trees, shrubs and grass.
I could hear it pounding off leaves in the nearby woods and imagined water running off the hill and into the stream at the side of our property. I pictured everything as being greener, though I was going only on sound, this comforting sound.
I tired of television but not the rain. About midnight, instead of going to bed, I grabbed a bag of pistachios, a bucket for the shells and a sport drink from the refrigerator and went out to the front porch.
I wanted to watch the rain now.
I pulled over a rocking chair to the door so the dogs, still fretful about the rain, could lie in the foyer and still have me within sight.
A streetlight cast long shadows across the yard. A breeze that accompanied the sheets of rain was enough to draw a few notes from the wind chimes.
In the corner of a roofline, water poured from the gutter, a spot I had forgotten to clean out several weeks ago.
The heavy rain kept away the mosquitoes. My bare feet dug into the scratchy welcome mat and liked it.
I didn’t really hear the pistachio shells hitting the bottom and sides of the bucket.
The dogs seemed content. My mind wandered from one unimportant thing to another.
Tuesday’s unusual amount of rain led, of course, to many headaches Wednesday morning. As people coped with flooding, evacuations and detours all day, I tried to leave my sentimental notions about rain in their proper reservoir.
I only bring them out now to remind you that some future night, when the rain seems willing to stick around for awhile, crack open a door or window.
You might hear the sound of nightcrawlers.