Rain, old friend, it’s time to talk

Irish Independent - - Comment - Frank Cough­lan

RAIN. My old­est friend. Can’t re­mem­ber a time when it wasn’t in my life. Al­ways there when I needed it. In­te­gral. Life-giv­ing.

Some­times though we need time apart. I like to take a break from it dur­ing the sum­mer. The oc­ca­sional nat­ter maybe. A short visit.

Meet up prop­erly again in the au­tumn. But since early June rain has been hang­ing around way too much. Cramp­ing my style. Be­ing posses­sive and needy.

Al­ways with the ‘where are you go­ing?’ and ‘what about me?’

So we fell out last week. As was bound to hap­pen.

Debs and I were in Dun­gar­van for a few days to take in the Green­way cy­cle path to Water­ford city. We had heard so many pos­i­tive things that we felt the urge to sad­dle up.

The path – scenic, mostly flat and to­tally traf­fic-free – tracks the old rail­way line and is re­ally cy­cling for dum­mies like me who like to be seen to make an ef­fort with­out ac­tu­ally en­dur­ing any of the pain.

We weren’t be­ing am­bi­tious ei­ther. Just the first 22km to Kil­mac­thomas, a lazy repast there, and then a gen­tle, leisurely pedal back.

But there it was. Wait­ing for me when I pushed open the cur­tains in our ho­tel that morn­ing. Rain. Lay­ers of it. That soft and dopey sum­mer va­ri­ety that doesn’t look like much but is wet­ter than any other brand and twice as per­sis­tent.

It gave me a wave. I didn’t wave back. We zipped up our wet gear and hoped the low, suf­fo­cat­ing clouds took the hint and dumped on some­one else’s pa­rade.

But this del­uge wasn’t go­ing any­where. More a stalker than a real friend, it stayed with us ev­ery inch of the way.

Four­teen or so kilo­me­tres out, just be­yond Dur­row and the ghostly rem­nants of its old rail­way sta­tion, we stopped and con­sid­ered our op­tions.

There were only two. Deny the mis­ery, pre­tend we were en­joy­ing our­selves and con­tinue to push through this eter­nal blan­ket of grey wet. Or turn our back on it and re­turn to the ho­tel and its dry, warm bar.

It took us all of five-and-a-half sec­onds to agree on the lat­ter. The rain run­ning off my hel­met was drib­bling down my neck and back. I could feel the squelch of wa­ter in my run­ners. There was no feel­ing in the tips of my fin­gers.

Debs, who by in­stinct and rep­u­ta­tion is no quit­ter, was just as sod­den and as ea­ger for the gen­tle slope home.

The rain, dogged as ever, was on our shoul­der all the way back to Dun­gar­van, with no ap­pre­ci­a­tion that it had washed out a spe­cial day. Not a drop of re­morse.

We’re not on talk­ing terms now. It owes me a sum­mer. It owes us all one.

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