Brussels is returning back to normal after a few lovely weeks of winter. Gone are gently falling flakes of snow, replaced by the usual never-ending rain.

And I am not talking about sudden passionate cloudbursts or honest downpours. There is no imposing bruised sky hanging over us like an oddly seductive threat. No angry spears of water lash the world as the sky breaks open with thunder and lightning.

No, there is nothing like that. What there is, is drizzle. And drizzle is a species of rain that is particularly hard to love.

You look out of your window in the morning trying to decipher the weather. You squint at the nearest street light. Is that rain you see in the orange glow? It is hard to tell. You leave your house and it takes you a while to realize that it is in fact raining. But no need for an umbrella, you think, the rain is very light. It is practically just moist air forming small droplets. But still you get wet. And in the end you capitulate to this gentle but relentless onslaught and dig out your umbrella, feeling slightly foolish, because it is barely raining after all.*

The sky above you is neither close nor far. It could be described as gray but perhaps it is more of a dirty white. As if god hung his washed-out sheets to dry on top of the world. The light that comes through has absorbed this dull colour, and one cannot help but wonder if the world has been newly painted with dirty dishwater. 

And it drizzles on and on…

To cheer myself up I decided to think of things to like about rain:

  1. Rain is good for vegetation. We should be grateful that we do not live in a landscape where small tough shrubs endure harsh dry winds bringing nothing but sand. Instead we live in the greenest capital of Europe where lush green trees enjoy almost constant moisture. Let’s be happy for the trees!
  2. The smell of rain. I love the scent of nature when it rains. It is as if the world is washed clean of pollution and the smells of earth and vegetation are enhanced.
  3. The sound of rain. I love the sound of rain on my window in the evening. The soothing whisper of it or the rhythmic patter as it flings itself at the glass. (For more on the sound of rain see the writing exercise below, which I set myself about two years ago, with the picture as inspiration)
  4. Rain makes for a good excuse to stay inside with a warm cup of tea and a book. Is there anything more perfect than being cozily inside while it is raining?
  5. The rare appearances of the sun creates an inordinate amount of joy among us rain soaked creatures. Suddenly the world is a bright place, and people who usually grunt something unintelligible from behind their computers, actually utter a cheerful “Hello! What a beautiful day!” All day, it is the talk of the office. Look at the sun! Isn’t it amazing! Outside people flock on terraces, turning their faces hungrily towards the light. … Ok, I am getting a little carried away here. This is beginning to sound like the tragic life of some underground creatures…
*Recently, while browsing on the internet, I happened upon a close cousin of drizzle called mizzle. I am inclined to believe that some of our traditional Brussels drizzle might in fact be mizzle. As you can read in this article, mizzle is a term used in Devon and Cornwall, for a mix of mist and drizzle, while its relation in Schotland is called Scotch mist. Perhaps the Brussels variant of this weather type should have a name of its own. Brizzle, bruzzle, brume Bruxellois…?

Recycled writing exercise from Autumn 2011:

Water falls to the earth, pulled by its magnetic force. The grit, dust and dirt of the city is captured and beaten to the ground. Streamers of water fall like faint rays of light through the twilit air. Droplets like sparks, as they rebound from the pavement.

     Listen to the rain.

     The gentle patter on the sidewalk.
     The muted echo on dry leaves that litter your street.
     The dull thudding on roofs of cars.
     The muffled drumming on your umbrella.
     The rustling whisper through trees.
     The sharp tapping on your window.

The rain plays its incessant symphony as the thirsty earth draws water to itself. And I watch the rainy day through a blurred window pane as I hold a teacup with both hands. The beauty of rain is best enjoyed from home.