Walking the dog in the rain

Rain On Window by David Wagner

When I was 23, I flew to Ireland with a backpack. I spent three lovely weeks in a wander. I went alone. And it was marvelous.

In Ireland, it rained. A lot. I was almost always slightly damp. For several days, I was quite sick. In Dublin, I met a man who claimed to have set bombs for the IRA. Near the Cliffs of Moher, I learned that being “brave” enough to hitchhike is a rather stupid choice. In Dingle, I fell in love with mountains and sea but mistook them for a boy. When I left, with a newly acquired smoking habit and a heavy stack of Irish myths, I believed that nothing would ever make me sad again.

Ha.

At 23, I thought I had discovered internal truths of such magnitude they could never be forgotten. I’d had a grand adventure — no small thing — but not a revelation. At 41, I have come to disbelieve epiphanies. The truth is usually smaller, spare, and easier to miss. The deepest revelations come dressed in the mundane.

Lately, I’ve written quite a bit about our new puppy. He is a furry ball of chaos who compels our firm devotion. Right now, he is also teething. More specifically, he is eating up our house. He chews books — a grave sin in the home of a bibliophile like me. He chews shoes. He ate one of my perky pink pumps, the only color in a sensible sea of black and brown. He gnaws my grandmother’s hope chest and her antique desk. He ate his toy box. He steals the recycling. And dirty socks. Hapless stuffed animals end up between his jaws. Sometimes he forgets and tries to eat my hand.

Every morning, we take him out with the intention of wearing him down.  A 45 minute walk can buy me an hour or more of puppy nap time, time enough to get some schoolwork done. Without a walk . . . he eats the house. And us. So, Mocha gets his morning walk every day. Rain or shine.

It’s the rain that creates problems. Mocha hates rain. He has just recently surmounted his mortal fear of puddles. On rainy days, our dog walk looks more like a puppy pull. On rainy days, Mocha forgets that he loves treats. That he loves us. That he loves mud — especially for eating. On rainy days, Mocha drags his heels, then hangs his head in resignation. He is not a happy pup. In the hardest rain, we tuck our chins and push on, dripping, soaking, until we reach the tipping point where everything looks funny, from sopping socks to muddy legs. Mocha is not particularly amused.

Sometimes the rain is softer, and it’s then I think of Ireland. It comes back as a kaleidoscope of memories, jumbled through a sieve — small towns and youth hostels, the rumble of trains and the hiss of busses, the strange comfort of carrying my life on my back.

Time returns in slices — an afternoon with bread and cheese in the cradle of rolling mountains. Kylemore Abby in Connemara. A rented bike on an endless hill. Hanging upside down to kiss the Blarney Stone.

It’s a cliché, of course, but nevertheless true: There is no green like the hills of Ireland. It is color bejeweled, enchanted. There is no green like Irish green — and no me as I was then, so certain that everything after would be easier than all that came before.

Today, so many years and lifetimes later — oh how many careers, and cities, and divergences that space contains. Today, I walk the dog in the rain. Boo Monkey is convinced there are owls in every tree hole. Rainbow Girl skips and dances, her feet a living pirouette. Mocha trods, more or less, and I go with him. I marvel at the distance covered, from here to there, then till now. I marvel at my Celtic knot of days, interlocked, encompassing both solitary Irish hills and family dog walks in the rain.

What memories do you return to when it rains? Please share! 

10 thoughts on “Walking the dog in the rain

  1. Very nice! Just like you, “I marvel at the distance covered, from here to there, then till now.” And at the “no me as I was then.” The rain takes me back to the Bay Area of California, when I was young and like you believed I’d never feel as sad or as happy or as in love as I did then. Nothing could be further from the truth–and in this new lifetime, I wonder if I’ll think the same of now when I look back in 25 years. Undoubtedly. Thanks for the memories. (p.s. our dog LOVES the rain, which makes it a lot easier at the Mocha stage but it’s truly more difficult as they get older — so count your lucky stars!)

    • I’ll have to hear more of your Bay Area stories when we have tea next summer on our island. 🙂 I don’t know why, but the rain always makes me more contemplative. And we’ve had a lot of it this season. Those Irish weeks were beautiful and strange. I wouldn’t give them up, but I wouldn’t go back to that time either. (Maybe Abby can teach Mocha to love the rain?)

  2. Lisa,
    Whenever I read one of your posts, it usually takes me a day or so to take in the complexities and beauty of your written words – the emotions that you share, the insights that you provide on motherhood and being an artist.

    I never experienced rain in Ireland or the emerald green of its shores. I didn’t backpack in Europe when I was young, my world contained in what I could carry. I was too afraid. I would still be too afraid – I need my hairdryer and curling iron, hot showers, climate-controlled spaces. But perhaps I can still learn from the smaller moments of my life; be glad for the mundane happy moments – at 10, begging our mothers to let us put on our bathing suits and go out into the rain, sailing paper boats down storm-laden gutters.

    • Brenda,
      I love the image of playing in the rain in bathing suits, sending paper boats down the gutters! What fun — and a great memory. I think the rain tends to bring out such vibrant memories, deep-seated ones. A gift. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Such lovely imagery! I long to go back to Europe and travel the Continent! Alas, I’m sure that the trip we take there sometime in the near future, will be nothing like when I lived there–it will be even better! Some day we will be able to see Boo Monkey and Rainbow Girl’s eyes light up when they see all the beautiful artwork in the Uffizzi, taste the crepes from a vendor at the entrances of Le Jardin du Luxembourg, take a barge ride down the Danube, and lie on the black beaches by the azure waters on Santorini! Until then, I will be trudging through the rain right next to you!

  4. I have just been taken back in time myself to many of those same places that you mentioned. Oh, to be back in Dingle falling in love with mountain and sea and boy. I do sometimes mourn the loss of that newlywed that I was, the skinnier version of myself with a freshly minted married life spread out in front of her. Life is better in so many unexpected ways after the birth of the The Babe-O, but it’s more complicated, too. Someday we’ll be there again, walking the hills, seeing the green, and feeling the magic of the Faerie Tree. Thanks for reminding me of those lovely places!

    • I love the image you use of the “freshly minted married life” — what a great description. And, yes, we’ll go back again. Magic.

  5. I’m too tired to conjure my own memory (due with that baby any day now), but I wanted to let you know I enjoyed reading yours. Your posts are so lyrical.

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