Spring rain has a habit of wetting weekends, not weekdays, like it’s supposed to for those of us who want to do anything outside.
On Saturday, I climbed with people who wanted to go outside, rain or shine. You have to be careful — enthusiastic companions can be both a blessing a curse. Sometimes I want an excuse to wuss out, stay in, be lazy, drink more hot tea or coffee, stare at the television and exert no brain power whatsoever. I don’t want to get bundled up and fight a chill and try hard.
If you went out to climb or run or ride your bike on Saturday, you know that there was no sun, no warmth in the wet spring air. Odds are good you came home and had to dry out your clothes and stuff your frizzy hair under a hat (maybe that was just me). You might have thought of it as yet another yucky weekend day.
Or maybe you appreciated the earthy smell of a rainy day in Boulder, or the fleeting green that’s gracing town, the foothills and the plains right now. Maybe you were grateful for a few enthusiastic companions who nagged you into going outdoors on a misty day, because these days — the days when you have sunny company for an outing in lousy weather — can be among the best.
What’s more, beyond the good company, a lousy day can be refreshing. A little rain can wash away your ambition, your self-imposed pressure to perform and leave you with that clean feeling of pure fun.
(An addendum: Some people perform best in lousy weather. These people are called alpinists and cyclocross riders. This past weekend was probably entirely too nice for them. They’re another story altogether.)
I have no idea who that first person was who said, “there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.” Yahoo says it’s a Scandinavian saying, but it doesn’t matter — anyone who has been caught in rain while backpacking or biking has adopted it. As the mist grew around our crag up Boulder Canyon on Saturday, I was glad we’d all learned the adage well, too, even though you often don’t need it around here.
After only a handful of pitches each, we all headed back to the car surprisingly content. I’m not sure if we were all smiling and happy because we had a popular crag to ourselves, because we’d dressed so warm we weren’t noticing the cold, or because we shifted our expectations as soon as the mist started.
But for me, my spirits were undampened because I had a refreshingly different mindset thanks to the rain.
The weather drenched any tendency to obsess on climbing hard, or climb a certain grade or number of pitches, or train. I was trying a climb right at my limit, but halfway up, the mist grew into something much closer to rain, and the rock became too slick to hold onto. After sliding off of the same wet hold three times while trying to pull myself atop an arete, I gave in. It was an effort in futility, both physically and mentally — no use trying to yard on a slick hold, and no use telling myself I suck at rock climbing when I’m just slip-sliding because of the rain.
I wasn’t irked by frustration, nor galled by unmet expectations. Instead I found contentment somewhere between the extremes of staying home and zoning out with the television and showing up at the crag on a mission to try my hardest. The rain brought moderation, which brought out the joy of being out climbing just for the sake of being out climbing.
Rain, rain, come again another day.