There is something about being in the woods that restores my soul. And the deeper into the woods the better. I like sleeping outside. I enjoy living in a tent every once in a while. I enjoy people, but I also appreciate getting away – either by myself, or with a few friends and family. I also enjoy the sound of rain… as long as it’s on my terms.
I don’t like the sound, or feel, or smell of rain on a camping trip. There isn’t much more miserable for me than living among wet and soggy clothes, bedding, and crackers. I don’t mind being cold, but being cold and wet stinks for me.
Apparently not so much for my son and his friends. I took a few of them camping recently and it rained nearly the entire 3-day weekend. They hiked and explored, canoed and kayaked, and almost kept a fire burning continuously. They were as cold and wet as me and the crackers, but it didn’t stop them from enjoying the first few days of their spring break. One happily declared that we weren’t camping, we were tarping! They mostly slept in ENOs with individual tarp coverings, but also pieced together a decent community area surrounding my tent.
While the boys were out in their newly adopted element, I read, contemplated and enjoyed the peace of it all. As the rain subsided on Monday, I was able to get in a few runs with them as our gear dried for an easy break down later. It really wasn’t a bad weekend.
While watching the boys stand in a drizzle around the fire, I thought about us stormwater people. How many of us have actually seen our work being tested under the conditions for which it was designed? The normal response to rain is to seek shelter. But if your job is to manage rain and its runoff, you have already left the “normal” station. Why would we not get out in it?
We often seem surprised by the rain . We tell ourselves and others that if it hadn’t been so wet lately, or if last night’s rain had not caught us off-guard, we could have kept all of that sediment on site. We act as if we actually thought the rain would have ceased until we finished. We sometimes seem to be in denial about the very thing that keeps us employed.
The fact is, it is going to rain. We call ourselves experts in erosion “control” and sediment “control,” but even we don’t have the arrogance think we can control the rain. We know it’s coming whether we like it or not. The sooner we accept, and study, and innovate, and play in and with a full understanding that the rain is coming, the more effective we will be.
We really have no other choice than to embrace the rain. Besides, choosing to be wet and cold feels different than getting wet and cold on someone else’s terms. It’s kind of like choosing change rather than being forced. Commitment and compliance may lead to the same place, but each have completely different psychological effects.