In Honor of BOJ
It’s raining in Southern California, and by my records, which are of course exact, specific and never wrong, this is the first rain in roughly a year. Yes, it has been that long.
I woke this morning to the sound of rain streaming through the gutters, and through my garage which was flooding nicely. It dawned on me, as I sat listening, that I had something to do.
My father, known as “BOJ,” which stood for “Big Outdoor John” loved to walk in the rain. In fact, I think it was one of his favorite things in the world. Where we lived, Indiana, Wyoming, Texas, we got rain, and I mean serious rain, flooding rain that would turn mountain ravines into gushing torrents swift enough to suck down your 4×4. We don’t get that here in the Southland, but I settle for what we do have.
When the lightning and thunder started, we all began to hear rubber boots being tugged on, and zippers being zipped. BOJ would head for the hills. Occasionally, he would lurch by a picture window, appearing like the mythic Sasquatch as he ducked and dodged through the massive trees or cacti.
They say a real man likes the feel of nature on his face, and I think this had something to do with his practice. What would John Wayne do? He’d walk in the rain of course.
So as the sky took on the blue steel of dawn I mounted up in my trusty slicker and headed for the Back Bay, the closest nature to my house, about 1/4 mile away.
The bay was socked in as they say, with clouds kissing the rooftops and coastal vegetation. Except for the cars rushing by, stereos playing, dogs barking and planes taking off from John Wayne it was dead quiet.
I walked further on, passing the lone walker or biker. Crossing a small bridge I stopped to ponder all of life’s relevant issues and looked down to see a virtual river of sludge funneling into the bay. It’s good my dad wasn’t here to see this.
Yard clippings, coolers, clothing, rags, paper, cans, bottles and heaps of plastic bags, cups, strips and sheets all passed by in a river of inland runoff. My inner child entered a shame spiral and I thought, “Wow, we still have a lot to learn.”
Moving further alone I came across Bob the local snail, as usual, doing NOTHING. But, his body was out in full form, looking slightly soft, and he was getting his shell cleaned. He seemed happy with the rain.
Above me came the roar of planes from John Wayne, dipping and ducking through the clouds, filled with corporate commuters on their way to exotic places like Oakland and Phoenix. By the way, if the sky ever looks like this, for real, take immediate, evasive action as the world is about to end.
I walked on, unsure as to whether I was sweating or actually wet, one of the pleasures of rain walking. The bay was still nearly deserted, just the way my dad would have liked it, and the rain was lessening. I thought of all the things I needed to do today, and how many of these things were actually important in the grand scheme of life. For just a moment, the world was still, and for a brief, brief moment I thought I saw a lone figure, wading far across the expanse in front of me, rubber boots, black slicker,heading to an unknown place where the lightning and thunder never end.