Child of the North

I want to tell you why I need a storm and rain every now and then.

My place of birth is a coastal city. I don’t remember it from the first few months of my life. But I was born in late autumn, the time when the rain already turns into snow sometimes. Then, my early childhood years, in a small village somewhere in the fenland, the moor. One of my first clear memories is our cellar flooded with ground water, because the neighbours’ pump had failed. My mom and me in rubber boots and rain coats, getting rid of the water by filling buckets – me using a fruit-shaped sand mold. Later in my childhood and teen years, the rural town with a fair twice a year, and for some reason it always rained at least once during the fair, sometimes people were joking around because it seemed to be a rainless fair for once, and then the rain would come during the last few hours of carousels and all the rides moving to way too loud music and merchants selling cheap knives. Oh, the rain, and the wind in the fields, which upon leaving the town carried the promising smell of spring being near. Late summer thunderstorms, moving across the sky so slowly at first that you could lie still on the lawn and soak up the first few drops of lukewarm rain, before picking up your blanket and scrambling for shelter in the garage or the house as the real torrents of water came with stormy darkness and scattered lightning. After leaving school, one year spent in a tiny village on a hill close to a mountain range. Once it poured with rain for three days straight, other times it was just some hours of rain and one or two days of the thickest fog you can imagine. Sunny days with rabbits passing by on the meadow, and mixed days with a little bit of rain and a bit of evening sun beckoning to stray in the forest of wonders.

And now, in this huge city with all the multi-storey houses crammed together in old and new streets, with all the hustle and bustle, technology and way too much traffic … I’m living in the north again, though not at the coast, but in a city embraced by a river with many arms. Some days ago I noticed once again, how much the rain is a constant in my life. Every now and then, I need the storm to shake the window frames and throw a handful or two of rain against the glass, just to say, “hey, it’s me, nature, I’m still out here”, to remind people how powerless all our technological achievements are compared to the seemingly tamed forces of nature. To tell the truth, I’d never want nature to be utterly under human or technological control. I hope to be reminded by the damp and sometimes slightly salty wind of former days, when freedom was more than a choice between two technological solutions. I want to lie awake, listening to the howls of a late winter storm, and the smell of spring approaching, somewhere out in the countryside. I need to feel the windy announcement of autumn on my bare hands before I bury them in my pockets, and I need the rain in my face to calm down when I’m so angry I need to go for a midnight run in the dark back alleys, wishing for a time when people used to live in houses with space in between to beathe.

I need the rain, the wind, the storm, the lightning. To be reminded of being a part of nature, of being me and truly alive.

I may have been to Africa, I may long for long summerdays, but still I need the old familiar rain with a promise of the ocean sometimes, I’m still a child of the north.