Sunday, January 30, 2011

A soft day

In Ireland, a soft day brings a muted mistiness to the landscape, a pattering but not buckets of rain pelting down, mind you.

It's a time to go out, walk the hills, climb the cliffs. I happen to be in Southern California, but today was a soft day, and I took to my favorite little mountain.

At first, I needed only my hat, then my hoodie and finally my umbrella. The drops sounded like small pebbles falling, gently. Later, it would turn splattering and splashing, but not then.

Here you see my favorite boulder and my favorite umbrella bought in Toronto during a rainy trip. It makes me smile, no matter what the weather.


Filmmaker Alan Parker ("Evita," "Angela's Ashes") said, "Rain is very difficult in film, particularly in Ireland, because it's quite fine, so fine that the Irish don't even acknowledge that it exists."

In my new mode of trying to observe something new in my environment every day, I was delighted to find raindrops clinging to this chain railing.

And how about this tiny hobbit hole in the cliff? Two plants no bigger than peas have taken up residence on the doorstep.


One of Alice Hoffman's characters, Elinor in The Probable Future, has a name for all variations of rain. Fish rain. Rose rain. Daffodil rain. Swamp rain. And the fearsome stone rain.

A haiku I wrote some time ago fits this day.
a gust of wind,
the rain-beaded branch
bare again


The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) said, "I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped in the forests."


I'll leave you with this rock moss that looks like a strange hand and a couple of witty songwriter/singer quotes.

"Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet."--Roger Miller (1936-1992)


"Don't threaten me with love, baby. Let's just go walking in the rain."--Billie Holiday (1915-1959)



Julie Dao said...

Your pictures are exquisite as always. I love cloudy/stormy days... they have so much more story to them than a sunny day.

storyqueen said...

Aw....I am in love with the hobbit hole!

And I am still loving your idea of looking for those lovely things in the world and recording them somehow. I haven't figured out my method yet. Maybe a golden book for the good stuff, and a brown book for the cruddy stuff.....

Always inspiring to come here.


Stephanie Thornton said...


I love Billie Holiday.

I didn't even notice the rain on that chain before you mentioned it, but I spotted the little plants in the rabbit hole right off the bat.

Small stuff makes us appreciate the big stuff.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Julie: Ooooo, yes cloudy days do have more story. Layers and nuances.

Shelley: Isn't the hobbit hole too cute? It was a wonderful scene for my new observing eye to fall upon.

Stephanie: I didn't see the raindrops on the chain at first, either. I saw the chain and thought it would be interesting to shoot and then when I got close I was, Oh!

Sherrie Petersen said...

We had so much fun dodging raindrops on State Street today :) I love the little details you're capturing with your photographs. And the haiku is lovely.

Wen Baragrey said...

Aww, I love the hobbit hole! I can imagine a little hobbit living in there all snug and warm watching the rain outside :D

That is a very cool umbrella too. No wonder it makes you smile :)

Yvonne Osborne said...

There's something special about walking in a soft rain under an umbrella. It's like being in the greenhouse where a soft rain sounds like a downpour and a downpour sounds like the judgment day. I love the haiku and I love the umbrella!

Bish Denham said...

Ah Tricia. You've done it again, transported me to another place and time.

I LOVE the idea of the Irish not acknowledging the existance of a fine misting rain!

VR Barkowski said...

Beautiful photographs. I love rain. It does indeed make the world softer, rounding the sharp edge and blurring reality. There's something mystical about rain, a sense anything can happen. No one has ever accused me of having Seasonal Affective Disorder. LOL.

"It was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort." :) That may be my favorite line, from any book, ever.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Sherrie: For us Californians, the rain can be such a treat. That's one reason I'm fascinated by the casual reaction in Ireland, where it rains so much that fine rain is simply atmospheric, if that makes sense. And thank you!

Wen: Is that not a wondrous umbrella? I had to have it as soon as I spotted it, and I always feel a bit magical using it.

Yvonne: That's a great analogy of being in a greenhouse. The sound does change, becoming closer somehow. And thank you!

Bish: I'm pleased to take you on any journey. ;) The way the Irish refer to such days is one of my favorite memories of being there. You'll pass someone on a street and they smile and say, Isn't a lovely soft day?

Viva: I love your take on rain being mystical. It does alter the everyday. Sometimes, walking in rain feels like another world.
Glad you like the hobbit hole. :D

Donna said...

Okay, this post should win some kind of award. Maybe the Good Eye award or somesuch.

Davin Malasarn said...

You're describing my favorite kind of weather! :) When the day is like that, as it was yesterday, I always feel like my thoughts are clearer and deeper. Maybe I should live in Ireland.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Donna: Good Eye award, I like the sound of that! Thanks.

Domey: I kind of wish I'd moved to Ireland long ago. Maybe my thoughts would be clearer! :)

J.B. Chicoine said...

Personally, I'm not crazy about any sort of inclement weather, but the way you write about it makes me feel as if I'm really missing out. Maybe when it warms up I'll venture out...

...and I do like the looks of that drippy chain...

Jemi Fraser said...

I love the different kinds of rain mentioned! My faves are a soft spring rain and a cracking thunderstorm! :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I love the idea of so many kinds of rain. Reminds me to find the extraordinary in the everyday. :) Thanks!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Bridget: I like the art quality of the chain, too. Venture into the next soft rain to come your way. There's magic in it.

Jemi: Nothing beats the thrill of a cracking thunderstorm, for sure!

Susan: Aren't the names wondrous? There were more. I'm impressed with the observational skill and imagination needed to do that.

Paul C said...

My wife and I once walked a virgin growth forest in a soft rain. The moss was bursting with vitality, the canopy caught every available drop to nurture growth. Beautiful post.

Paul Greci said...

I love that Pablo Neruda quote.

Sometimes the rain is so fine in Prince William Sound that you don't realize it's raining unless you turn your face toward the sky.

Great photos!! Love the one with the umbrella!!

Robyn Campbell said...

Pat, I'm going to Ireland this summer. Can anyone say, "WOOT! Squeeeeeee" I am totally excited. Hubby is taking us there before my test in July. I know he's doing it for me, in case , but I'm so excited.

These photos are wonderful, Pat. I wish I could take the pics you take. You are one talented lady. Since we're pals, I only hope some of your talent rubs off on me. (That's why I'm constantly rubbing your hand. You felt it, didn't ya?)

Robyn Campbell said...

I wanted to mention the Roger Miller/Billie Holiday quotes. PERFECT!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

PaulC: The moss amazed me during this walk with the vibrancy of the color. Soft rain seems to bring that out. Thank you!

PaulG: Pablo Neruda takes my breath away with his imagery. What an amazing poet he was.
I love your mention of not knowing it's raining until you turn your head to the sky. That's a great description of fine rain. And thanks...:D

Robyn: Oh, I'm so excited you're going to Ireland, my friend. I need, need, need to go back. Something about the place soothes and feeds my soul. I hope you find that, too. Besides the bustle of Dublin and tourist sites, I hope you get some quiet time on the rural, wild coasts. (and thanks!)

BK Mattingly said...

It's been wonderful here:) Cloudy, but a perfect jacket temperature.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

wow! thanks for the trip, Tricia! And I LOVE Billie Holiday!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Bethany: Hope you're out walking. ;)

TerryLynn: Any time!

Talli Roland said...

Wonderful photos. I love the concept of a soft day! So evocative.

Sarah Laurence said...

Thanks for taking me on a virtual hike in soft weather. It’s a blizzard here in Maine. Sweet haiku! I loved the Miller quotation.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Talli: Thank you. I love it, too.:)

Sarah: Sorry you're so snowed and glad I could get you out in something less brutal. Thanks for liking the haiku. How I love to write them.