Friday, July 21, 2017

The Pleasures of Drear

Don’t let the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any such word as “drear” bother you…it’s a nice word which should exist even if it doesn’t.

Today was what undoubtedly most people in Chicago consider to be dreary (get the connection?): heavy, heavy overcast, drizzle and light rain mixed with torrential rain mixed with wisps of fog, chilly winds…sort of a picnic-on-the-moors, Hound of the Baskervilles day. And I love it.

I’ve always liked it when Mother Nature shows emotion. Anybody can enjoy sunny skies and puffy clouds and warm, gentle breezes, and I like them, too. But it takes a special outlook to be able to appreciate days that drip with lugubriosity (I just made that one up, too). One of the reasons I left Los Angeles was because that was about all there was: sunny skies, puffy clouds, etc. Every single day was June 25. You could plan a picnic six months in advance and be almost guaranteed that it would be a sunny day with puffy clouds and warm breezes. Los Angeles days tend to be like one of those perky little blonde cheerleaders who is just always so…well, perky…that you want to throttle her.

Ah, but “drear” has its own quiet pleasures. Living in a high rise isn’t quite the same as being at ground level, where one can watch the trees outside the window swaying wetly, or the water running off the eaves. But standing at my 9th floor window looking down at the umbrella’d people scurrying along the glistening streets, cars’ tires like the bow of a ship sending up little sprays of water to each side, neon lights reflected off the sidewalks, the passing elevated trains shooting off sparks from their wet wheels on the electrified track…it’s all very comforting, somehow. It’s rather like my other favorite calmative pastime, walking through a cemetery, reading tombstones.

Drear provides the backdrop and sets the mood for quiet contemplation and reflection, and if there is the sound of rain to create background music, all the better. Granted, some fine-tuning is required to keep out the static of regrets and missed opportunities, or errors made, but once you’ve got everything right on pitch, it’s wonderful.

I also enjoy, still using music as an analogy, when Nature segues from quieter contemplative pieces featuring fog and overcast and rain to the full orchestrals of storms: booming tympani of thunder, cymbal crashes of lightning, full-brass of wind and fierce rain…watching the trees, as if caught up in some frenzy of emotion, whipping back and forth. I love it!

I remember once, as a teenager, during a terrific thunderstorm in the middle of a summer night. I got out of bed to stand in front of the open window and watch it. I was between the drapes and the window for a better view. My mom came in to close the window, thinking I was asleep. When she moved the drapes aside to get to the window, I scared the wits out of her, poor thing. (And you see? Even thinking of that on a day like today gives me pleasure and comfort rather than the sorrow of knowing it could never happen again.)

Life is full of drear. It’s how we see it and react to it that makes the difference.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from and; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/ You can find information about Dorien's books at his web site: 

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