I am so guilty of looking out the window, seeing a dark cloud and making the decision to not do anything outside that day. I recently stood glaring out a window toward the west as a wall of clouds quickly began covering the blue sky. My partner in crime was headed off to work and said cheerily, “Have a great day!” to which I replied, “Yeah right, my entire morning is ruined with this rain.” I truly felt as if all of my plans for the morning were ruined, and that I had no choice but to break out of what has become my morning routine and completely change gears. I was not impressed.
And then I remembered that in 2 months I am moving to the Pacific Northwest. Where it rains A LOT. According to a quick internet search there are on average 162 days with precipitation where I will be living year round. And when I compared it to where I live in Colorado, which sees on average 90 days of precipitation, I knew I needed to change my perspective in a hurry.
I did some training this Spring to help prepare myself for more indoor time than I am accustomed to. For example, I took up indoor hobbies that I had not considered doing before. I learned how to knit and I took a writing course to help improve and motivate my writing. I began to read books again and tried my hand at creating digital art using my photographs. I found myself not dreading the rainy days of May and instead welcomed them as they gave me an excuse to get back to my new projects.
I needed to apply this positive attitude to going outside because my body craves physical activity. I remembered a friend saying that her son just puts on rain gear and goes out to do the usual stuff, like ride his bike. I have rain gear that rarely gets used, so why not just put it on and go? What is the worst that could happen – I could get wet, cold feet and have to come home to get out of shoes. Really, this is not at all a big deal as I don’t have to venture far from the house to be in natural outdoor spaces. Besides, people all over the world endure precipitation as they pursue things outdoors, and they are not ending up depressed and feeling stuck inside. My excuses were starting to sound pathetic to me.
It was time for my daily outdoor activity and I decided it wasn’t raining too hard out yet. I could grab the rain coat and be out in the wide open or choose a trail that had quite a bit of tree cover and maybe not need the rain gear. I chose the latter and headed out the door.
As I wandered the paved trail following the river, I delighted in trying to keep dry. I used the wetness of the pavement to determine how wet I would get and hugged the vegetation when necessary. As the rain intensified, I was forced off the main trail and onto footpaths created by river-loving folks that led me to and alongside the river. In over 10 years of taking the main trail, I had never ventured onto a single side path. In fact, I had barely noticed them! I found myself winding along the river’s edge beneath cottonwood and willow trees, discovering wildflowers and startling multiple bird species.
I discovered a rope swing hidden from the main trail. I came face to face with a buck who rather than startle and run, walked toward me with curiosity until I felt uncomfortably close and chose to move. After some time I decided I needed to head back and the main trail would be the fastest route. I dragged my feet as I neared the pavement, disappointed that my mini adventure had come to an end.
On my way back, the buck reappeared about 15 feet off the trail. We exchanged glances, each taking a few steps toward each other as if seeing a friend. Further down the trail I encountered a very young bunny who scampered off when I spoke to it, offering advice to stay in the taller grasses where it would be safe from bicycle tires. A Great egret flapped its large white wings in slow methodical strokes as it flew overhead and off into the distance. Soon I was back at the car, my shoes slightly damp. I turned on the windshield wipers to be able to see ahead of me, and it was only then that I realized it had been raining on me the entire walk back.