The rains came on Saturday. They came quietly, as most weather does up at the lake. It began with the world, already quiet, briefly going dead — for a short time, maybe ten or fifteen minutes — as the imperceptible sound of a light drizzle on water slowly made its way into my awareness. Gentle rains at the lake don’t arrive at the location as much as they slowly surface into your consciousness. One moment, the lake is calm, serene. The next, the surface is unsettled by a hundred thousand pinpricks, but from far away, it could just be a gentle breeze. One moment the water that you hear is the stream feeding the lake from the mountain, the next you realize that the sound of water is coming from more than one direction. One moment, the world smells of damp pine, and, slowly, you realize that it begins to smell like damp sky. And then, somewhere amidst these transformations, comes that final moment when you become certain that it’s raining. From that point onward, everything — the pinpricks, the water rushing, the smell of ozone — becomes utterly unmistakable. It is raining at the lake.
And then, somewhere amidst these transformations, comes that final moment when you become certain that it’s raining.
I particularly like it when anything falls from the sky here. It is special, and a full sensory experience that cannot be captured into a square image with lettering and a hashtag. A bright lake lit by the exuberant colors of the sky at sunrise or sunset is always transformational, but in the age of Youtube, Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, and any other of ten million ways to share views and images, the purple, orange, and blue skylit lake becomes cheap. Type “lake sunrise” into Google and enjoy. But the rain — its sounds, smells, and even the dull gray lighting — transforms this lake into an Ansel Adams photo without even having to use a black and white filter.
One of my favorite things about a spring rain at the lake is when the birds begin to chirp again at the end of the rainfall. When the rains first come, I imagine birds all hurrying to their nests and shelters, ready to hunker down for a time. But they don’t wait until it stops raining to re-emerge. They begin singing and add their voices to the rush of the water, the smell of the air, the disruption of the surface of the lake, and the metallic ping-pang of water on the roof to create one of the most vibrantly alive worlds that I will ever experience.