When it rains I (Dave) often have memories of and refer to a holiday I was on in 2006. My wife and I were on a guided tour of Vancouver, Canada. We were between stops on a tour of the city when it started to rain. The driver and guide said on the on-board PA, it’s not rain, it’s liquid sunshine! He then went on to say that it’s not rain that’s the problem, more the inappropriate clothes that people wear when it rains.
For me being blind, rain is both a positive and a negative. I’ll start with the not so good first… I use and rely on my hearing lots when I’m out and about. I’m listening out for people, cars, usual noises as well as those not so usual noises; noises that mean I might have to concentrate more on my cane rather than hearing - builders or road workers for example. When it rains, it’s not the additional noises of water running down drains or the wet noise that is made from cars driving on wet roads, but the reduced and muffled sounds that are caused by having to put my hood up to stay dry. You’ll be amazed how different the world is when you put your hood up. I lose majority of the sounds from behind me and the sounds I do get are muffled and hard to pin point exactly where they are coming from. For this reason, even if it means getting wet, I’ll leave my hood down; especially if I’m out on my own or responsible for my children’s safety also. The other problem that rain causes is puddles; those very wet things that I don’t see and therefore walk through making my feet and trousers wet… not harmful but oh so annoying!
On a positive side, rain is one of the weathers that provide an audio description of its severity. Rain fall itself comes in different forms and they all sound different; it’s like a sliding scale from drizzle having little or no sound through to hail or torrential rain being very loud. Often I can listen to rain and work out how hard it’s falling and weather I’m likely to get damp, mildly wet or soaked through!
The other positive that rain brings is its ability of identifying my surroundings to me. Rain generates a landscape of sound built up of the various different noises it makes when hitting different surfaces. For example, rain hitting grass sounds different to rain hitting concrete and it’s different again when it hits wood or metal. Not for one minute am I suggesting that I can identify an item from the sound that’s made when rain hits it, more that it enables me to build a picture in my head of where things are around me that I’m aware of but can’t see. Try it… the next time it’s raining (you’ll probably not have to wait very long), stand outside your door, close your eyes and listen. Try and listen for the different sounds and build that audio picture. Isn’t the sound of rain falling on the canvas of a tent or the roof of a fibreglass caravan great – especially if you’re inside rather than outside!!
Vicky: I guess like all of us, how we relate to the rain also depends on what we’re doing (and how we’re dressed) at the time. However, a holiday memory for me was going to Blizzard Beach (a water park in Florida) as a family in torrential rain. Because it was humid it wasn’t cold, we were all dressed in swimsuits and were going to get wet anyway and the additional bonus was very few other people had ventured out so there were no queues for the rides 😊 However, getting drenched by the rain when you’re on your way to an important meeting is not such good fun.
Some of the points Dave makes are nicely illustrated in two of the books we’ve read –
In ‘Bleedout’ by Joan Brady
“Sighted people tie the moments of their lives together with a landscape that flows from one vista to the next; only rain gives the blind a continuum like that and I listened to the pattering on the window.”
And in ‘Touching the Rock’ by John M Hull
“I opened the front door and rain was falling. I stood for a few minutes lost in the beauty of it. Rain has a way of bringing out the contours of everything…I hear the rain pattering on the roof above me, dripping down the walls to my left and right, splashing from the drain pipe at ground level on my left, while further over to the left there is a lighter patch as the rain falls almost inaudibly upon a large leafy shrub. I think that this experience of opening the door on a rainy garden must be similar to that which a sighted person feels when opening the curtains and seeing the world outside”
We’re always interested to know about other people’s experiences and thoughts. Please share these by commenting…
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Our VIDA Insights...
Following our experiences from delivering our Vision Impairment Awareness training days over the past couple of years, we know that there’s loads more that we could talk about and examples we could have shared. Whilst these won’t be a substitute for our training, they will give you an insight (hence the name!) into our thoughts, observations and experiences from each of our perspectives - Dave’s living with sight loss and Vicky’s from being a sighted person and working alongside and supporting people who have sight loss.