ESCANABA - Close your eyes.
Take yourself back in your mind to your childhood bedroom.
Feel that favorite pillow and sheets of your younger days. A light summer breeze fluffs the curtains.
But, what's that sound?
On the roof just above your head, the pitter-patter of raindrops singing in unison wakes you from slumber.
Soon the fresh earthy smell of the wet world outside fills the little bedroom.
At the breakfast table, as you pour your Cheerios, your Mom chides, "It looks like another all-day rain!"
Glancing out the kitchen window, the sky is leaden, grey and gently soaking the ground below.
Do you remember, "All day rains?"
I'm sure your mother will recall days when it rained constantly from sun-up to sundown. Hopefully it wasn't laundry day. Most likely Dad was gone off to work. Mom had to deal with a half a dozen or more kids in the house on rainy summer days.
It seems like our U.P. summers are getting hotter and drier in the past few decades. All-day rains when you can actually see the corn growing and smell the flowers blooming are getting fewer and farther between.
Rainy days meant plenty of mosquitoes and squeaky, sand-caked sneakers and going over to a friend's house to play.
At our house, Mom insisted on fairly quiet activities and no arguing. Reading, Play Dough, Barbie dolls, Monopoly, Michigan Rummy and Creepy Crawler making were some of our favorite rainy-day activities.
My sister Lori had a Light-Bright toy that she played with for years and years (I think she may still have it). It was a popular 1970s creation where black paper was sandwiched between two black plastic screens and mounted over a light bulb.
Tiny pegs of a multitude of colors were poked through the holes on the screen and the paper to form a glowing picture. On dark, foggy or rainy days, this toy was a colorful diversion.
Lori and I spent hours trying to finish the patterns on the Light-Bright. I wonder how long kids of today would be intrigued with this toy with all the modern DS', iPods, computers and video games?
An "all-day rain" at camp (a small, rustic, one-room camp) meant it was a time to respect everybody's space.
Back when I was a kid, it seemed like you could always count on one of the two weekend days to be an all day rain, much to my Mom's displeasure.
At camp she would play thirty-one (a card game) with us and hide-the-button for what seemed like hours.
Before a rain, we often skedaddled out to the garden to pick beans or berries. Somehow the sound of the rain and the cleaning of string beans and raspberries go together.
When we were tots, a rainy day was a good day to play dress-up with the rag collection in our basement. As a teenager, a rainy day was an opportunity to clean a closet or rearrange a bedroom.
Baking cookies when the skies are grey sweetens the day, too.
Some of these rainy-day traditional activities are becoming things of the past. All-day-rains are becoming a thing of the past. The July issue of Popular Science Magazine has a two-part article on the changing climate.
So, if we get a soaking rain, not a violent storm, enjoy it with family and friends. Get down the paper dolls and the Play Dough. Have some fun while our earth gets watered.
On the roof of that old big house
The rain did splash and fall about
Nourishing the earth below
A sound I hope to always know!
Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of North Escanaba. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.