Rain in the Midwest
On rare days when it rained in Southern California, my grandpa would take his pillow out to the trailer in the backyard and sleep there, just to hear the raindrops hitting the tin roof.
It made him happy and I’ve always liked this about him - the way he wanted to hear the rain. I can’t say I understood it until I moved to the Midwest, where rain is more like a vertical river than a California shower.
It comes down in sheets and waves and the sound fills your bedroom at night. And in the early morning. And in the middle of the day, the thunder booms and the air is wet but warm.
My grandpa grew up in Indiana and took bike trips with his brothers in the summer, carrying only potatoes and postcards in their pockets. Each time they reached a new town, they would put a postcard in the mail to their mother and find someone’s barn to sleep in. In the morning, the family who owned the barn would invite them in for breakfast.
“Those were the days,” he would say. And these are the stories I miss now that he’s gone. Sometimes it starts to rain when I’m painting outside. I listen to the sound it makes when it hits the overhang on our porch and I watch it flood my garden, and I think, these are the sights and sounds he grew up with. I watch and listen as I use the paint brushes he gave me, the ones he broke in over years and years of creating beautiful scenes and trying to show me how to add texture to trees and streams, and how to give a rock its shadow. I miss him. I listen to the rain, and I miss him. I paint, and I miss him.
But I’m getting better at painting clouds. And I think he would like the way I add light to tree branches. He would say, “that’s real good, sweetie,” and we’d paint together in the trailer in the backyard, where he kept half his art supplies. And he would show me which brush was best for whatever I wanted to paint next.
Listen to this sketch