Updated: Nov 9, 2021
I remember running down the street with two of my friends, away from school, past the library, towards the main street of town. We were laughing and whooping, our school bags bouncing on our backs. It rarely rained in Carnarvon and, as far as I could remember, never in June. Yet here it was. A storm, on my birthday.
As we neared the intersection, I saw my mum’s car turn the corner. Seeing us, she pulled the white wagon over to the side of the street and wound down her window.
‘Get in, boys. I’ll drive you back to the house,’ she said.
‘Can’t we walk, Mum?’ I wiped the rain from my eyes. ‘Please?’
She looked up and down at me, my school uniform was already soaked.
‘Okay,’ she said. ‘Throw your bags in the back and make sure to come straight home.’
We threw our gear on the back seat. Of course, I we would head straight home. We were having a party and all my friends were coming over for a barbeque. We set off.
The rain eased a little as we ran down the main street, past the shops, towards my place, a couple of kilometres away. The sun peeked through the clouds as we neared my house, evaporating rain lifting from the bitumen road, hazy against the muddy red dirt which ran alongside it.
It was still raining as my friends arrived, so we stayed in the rumpus room which Dad had finished erecting in the back yard. We had a table tennis set and an old pinball machine. And I’d put a Men At Work tape on to play on my portable tape deck. I’d bought it earlier in the year. Business As Usual, the first album I bought with my own money.
Mum decided it was too wet outside and so we carried the barbeque inside. I’ve no sense of how we thought this would be okay, but we did it anyway, and so, as Mum cooked, the room filled with the aroma of snaggers and onions, and smoke. Lots of smoke.
Soon the room was filled, and we were all seated under the ping-pong table, escaping the smoke, as Mum handed a sausage folded in white bread, with a dollop of tomato sauce, to each of us. We laughed and told jokes as we ate, and Mum kept cooking until we couldn’t fit any more in. It was a fantastic way to celebrate my twelfth birthday.
I’ve always loved rain, the transformative nature of a storm. The way the world changes as the change in weather approaches, darkening skies, the air becoming dense. The smell as raindrops start to strike the ground, the formation of puddles, the flow as it runs downhill. Then, after passing, the glistening wet landscape, birds splashing, tadpoles in the muddy water.
Rainstorms can change your plans, make you improvise and do something different, something unexpected. Often though, if you let go and allow it to happen, that something can be better than the thing you’d originally planned.