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"In the other room Rateau was looking at the canvas, completely blank, in the center of which Jonas had merely written in very small letters a word that could be made out, but without any certainty as to whether it should be read solitary or solidary."
Albert Camus, "The Artist at Work"
A solitary, early Sunday morning walk in the rain. As I like it, my only walking companion was the soothing sound of rain in the trees and on the lake. From the shallow water at the lake's swampy edge, a blue heron, perched on one leg, froze my gaze as I stopped and stared. As I turned to walk on, it rose with blue beating wings and soared up through the raindrops, alighting high above out on a limb. The road was flooding as I walked, water streaming down the hill, creating eddies as it met the water backing up from the over-filled lake. The eddies formed whirling patterns, artistic visions running counter to the main current.
My mind swirled with thoughts as I walked and talked to all my ghosts, dead and living, who accompany me everywhere, but whose presence is so palpable in the rain. Their voices seemed to descend with the drops, bouncing off the water and echoing in my mind.
I heard my mother say to me, "Eddy, you were always a contrarian. I worry about you." Yes, I answered, I am, but you named me, and Eddy is the correct spelling. I'm an eddy, a whirlpool, a contrarian, one who runs counter to the mainstream. But, dear mother, the mainstream is flowing fast toward destruction, carrying everyone and everything with it. We have to reverse course and resist. Please, mother, worry only if I wasn't walking against the wind.
Through the weeping trees I heard Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, whisper, "I told you that someday they will sell us the rain. Everyone and everything is for sale. 'They' are the people who don't understand that rain is a free and useless festival, and because it is a gift, they wish to control it. The weather modifiers and geo-engineers are working overtime now. Together with the nuclear madmen, they will rain poisonous death upon us all unless we stop them. Remember: to be a contemplative is to be an outlaw. Don't divorce resistance from contemplation; they are married for life. Joy and suffering are their children."
I didn't reply, just kept walking, sloshing and slamming through the puddles. Merton has an eerie way of insinuating himself into odd private moments, and I didn't want an extended conversation. I just wanted to enjoy the rain.
The sloshing brought voices from my children's young years, the exultation as we romped streaming-wet through the wild beating storm, singing at the top of our voices, "If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops/Oh what a rain it would be/I would stand outside with my mouth open wide/ Ah ah ah ah..." I opened my mouth wide, tongue out, and tilted my head back. Ah, the sweet taste of love and joy. I heard my children scream ecstatically, "Yippee!" and whirl and twirl with mouths agape.
On I walked, listening and watching. The rain fell harder, so hard it was difficult to see and all other sounds were completely obliterated. Bubbling up from somewhere came the rhythm of Jacques Pre'vert's poem, "Barbara":
It rained all day on Brest that day
And you walked smiling
Flushed enraptured streaming wet
In the rain
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