When it's cold and rainy, I think of England.
I think of walking the streets of Covent Garden, listening to David Gray. Of huddling into the British Museum along with the hundreds of others who take refuge in the historic monstrosity on London's rainy days. The main hall echoes with children's shouts, umbrellas and squeaky boots. Then you look up, and some Assyrian god is towering over you. There could be worse places to spend a rainy afternoon, navigating relics, curiosities and slick marble floors.
When it's gray outside my window, I imagine how differently rainy days feel in England than here. In Georgia, where we go from garage, to car, to parking lot, to store, back to car. We need only be prepared for brief interludes of getting wet. We grumble about how the rain impedes our life and activity. When I lived in London, you just went about your day same as before, just better prepared for the elements. Knowing I'd have to walk from my hotel, or guest home, several blocks to the tube meant I was prepared for getting wet. And every other Londoner on the tube was wet, too. And we all stood in silence (that odd European public transportation ritual), hundreds of us, with nary a sound but the clack and rattle of the tube car zipping through tunnels underneath a worldclass city.
I love the bright warmth of the meticulously organised shops contrasted with the damp chill of the streets. I love that shops are accessible simply by walking down a sidewalk and ducking into the doorway, rather than, as we must stateside, precariously navigating through a parking lot filled with oversized cars on a mission for the best spot. And the pubs, by gosh the pubs with their rusty-colored warmth, meeting you with a rush of conviviality as soon as the double-doors open to the inside. The chatter of people huddled together, the glow of the tele playing a match. I even love the warm beer, because, after all, you're already cold. England's pubs would not be famous were it not for England's cold and rain. They go together beautifully, like, well, bangers and mash.
Walking through the parks on a rainy morning takes on a mystical quality. Regent's colors and grandeur that are so alive on crisp, sunny fall weekends, shrink back into impressionistic swirls of faded hues. Wide swaths of gray-green grass lie still, save for a few shadowy figures, traveling the park's sidewalks. Nameless commuters in black overcoats walk with determination on these days, taking in little of the beauty for the sake of a quick arrival at their destination. But the beauty is there.
St. Pauls windows have less glow on rainy days, but the cavernous cathedrals feels just as much, if not more, of a sacred retreat. Candles burn brighter, and the golds are warm and brilliant. Standing on Westminster bridge in drizzle just seems right. The Thames is gray and milky, and nearly fades into the chalky tones of the historic buildings lining it's shores. They are distinct, yet the same.
It is London, and it's cold and rainy. And it is beautiful. (now where is the nearest entrance to the Tube...I'm freezing!)