I am smart enough to come in out of the rain, I want to make that clear right up front. But I was on vacation a few weeks ago and I spent hours working in the yard and fields under varying degrees of rainfall. One day I was moving wheelbarrows of compost to our range of blackberries and while I was doing it a light sprinkle developed to a steady shower and finally to a pelting rain before I decided it was time to quit and go inside. Even then I wondered if I should have gone on, despite the rain.
The fact is, if you’re very hot from physical labor, a cooling shower, along with the breeze that often comes with it, can feel very nice. And what is the difference between having your clothing sweated through from effort or wet from rain, aside from the obvious olfactory associations? I am an amateur, a tyro at this tending to pastures and fruit trees and such. But I wonder if people of considerable experience shy away from working in the rain? I wonder if they ever did in the past?
I know that modern people dislike being in the rain. Once I visited Sea World in Orlando. Before every show featuring dolphins, orcas or seals, the staff warned people sitting close to the pool that there would be splashing and they might want to move back. This caused everyone to crowd to the front for the delightful experience of being drenched in the wake of their favorite aquatic mammals. But this being Florida, there came the inevitable late afternoon rain shower. As soon as it began everyone in the park scattered to find shelter in gift shops or eateries. Clearly the problem is not being wet, it’s being in the rain.
But for people who have a lot of work to do, rain eats into their time. You cannot mow hay or work in muddy gardens when they are rain soaked, but there’s usually something you can get done, if you just tolerate being wet while you do it—or don’t mind working in a rain coat. (I have a nice bright yellow rain coat which always makes me feel like an eight-year-old when I wear it.) We work in all kinds of weather. Deep snow. Blistering heat. But for some reason, even though our skin is waterproof, we shy away from doing anything in the rain.
Rain is predicted for the next three days, a pattern that has dogged the spring and summer so far in the Great American Midwest. Nothing will get done outside unless I face the fact that I will be working in the rain, at least part of the time. This is especially bad because we are in the height of the growing season: we have beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lots of blackberries all ready to pick and eat. I sit at the window looking out on the riotous green under grey skies, seeing all my control of it winding away from me, knowing I could take it back if only I could just face up to going out in the rain.