September 21, 2012

A Canuck in Kantuck: Rain on a Tuesday

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — It’s a cozy, rainy day and I’m tucked in the kitchen looking out the window. On the stove, I’ve got chicken broth simmering and its rich, comforting scent has filled up the entire house. This morning, I decided I would finally try my hand at making sourdough bread so I’ve got the starter bubbling in a bowl, which it will do for the next 48 hours so it can, apparently, capture wild yeast from the air.

As I look outside, I realize just how much I love days like these, when the weather has a firm hand in determining how you’ll spend your time. Rainy days, which are second only to snowy days in my opinion, provide the most beautiful excuses. For example, I can’t go outside for a jog because it’s raining. I can’t go weed at the children’s garden today for the master gardener’s program because the workday has been canceled on account of the weather. So my day has opened up like a book.

Speaking of which, I plan to read mine this afternoon. I’ve been making a point of only reading Kentucky authors in the past several months. The book I’m reading now is “Girl Trouble,” by Holly Goddard Jones and is based in western Kentucky. It’s a collection of long short stories and they are very good — her writing is insightful and uncluttered and her characters are deeply believable. Earlier this month, I finished “Clay’s Quilt” by Silas House, one of the best books I’ve read in at least the past five years. Now that’s a good example of how weather can affect setting and how setting can affect everything. Though reading House makes me painfully aware of my own shortcomings as a writer, I plan on reading all of his stuff. “Brilliant” is one word to describe it. “Authentic” is another.

Since it’s raining, maybe I’ll draw a bath and read amongst the bubbles. The only hitch is my friend Julie lent me “Girl Trouble” and reading in the bath always makes for wavy pages afterward. It’s bad manners to return a book in anything but pristine condition, but it would be so deliciously cozy and the book is so good. Maybe if I’m very careful.

Now that I’m home for the day, I’ve also decided to get caught up on laundry. It’s actually one of my favorite chores because, like rainy days, it provides built-in excuses. For example, you can watch TV while folding without feeling a hint of guilt — even if it’s the middle of the day. Today, I’m finally going to watch “The Help” while folding, a great movie, I hear. I loved that book too.

There’s something about rainy days in the fall that make them especially fun. Rain showers in the summer are a sweet gift too, mostly because it means you don’t have to water the garden and the lawn will green up. But rain in the fall doesn’t have to serve so immediate a purpose, it can just be appreciated and listened to. I’ve opened the door to the porch now so I can hear it. Rainy days always seem to advance the season, don’t they? Like that fast-forward button that leaps ahead in big chunks, rather than advancing on a continuum. I can almost hear the rain ushering in Halloween and Thanksgiving and the subsequent holiday season. I’m ready for it.

When I was a kid, we really didn’t have very many rainy days — most of the precipitation in Manitoba is in the form of snow, snow, snow. But the minute we’d hit my best friend Kristin’s cabin at Moose Lake, it seemed to almost always rain. We’d sleep in the loft and the rain on the roof was like music, pinging melodically while we fell asleep. Though we did wish it would dry up so we could go for a boat ride, we’d make the most of being inside, playing double solitaire, using the video camera to tape our talk television show “Canada Today” and watching movies like “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and that one with Bette Midler and Shelley Long. What ever happened to her?

OK, dear readers, I’m going to get on with my rainy day. With movie watching, book reading, broth brewing and bread making on the agenda, the day has filled up in the most delectable way — and I hope yours has too.


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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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