I think I’ve turned a corner some five years after the Keene flood of 2005. Fall rains are soothing to me once again, the cool blanket of a gray, drizzly day feeling both comfortable and cozy, a calming balm after summer’s glaring heat. Summer is loud and boisterous — bright. Fall is more muted, calm, and tranquil, a temperate, temperamental downshift toward the contemplative mood that is winter.
Summer is extroverted, with bursting blooms and burbling birds. Fall is introspective — a time to take stock, gathering a harvest of emotional resources to tide one over a long, inward-focused winter. Right as New England braces herself for one last invasion of temporary tourists — leaf-peepers with their slow-moving cars clogging winding roads and their five-second roadside photo stops — New Englanders are marshaling their inner resources, ready to hunker down for another winter. Now’s the time to reckon your woodpile, check your snow shovels, and find last year’s boots, gloves, and hats. In New Hampshire at least, winter always arrives sooner than you’d expected, snow being entirely possible as soon as October arrives.
But usually, October rains come first — and in 2005, these rains swept huge chunks of New Hampshire soil, roads, and cherished landmarks away, victims of a weekend-long deluge. For years after the autumn flood of 2005 and the summer floods of 2006, the sound of steady rain made me uneasy, making me dream on raining nights that my basement was filling (again) with water and leading me to peer out my windows in the morning to make sure I saw pavement and puddles — not a navigable river — where my street was supposed to be.
Yesterday morning, my heart felt grateful for a soothingly gentle rain — the first time in years that I fully relished autumn drizzle without anxious memories of The Flood. How long, I wonder, did it take Noah, his wife, and their children to look up without worry when the first postdiluvian raindrops fell, and for how many years afterward did the once-arked animals paw and stomp nervously with remembered claustrophobia at the first scent of storm?