© 2022 | WUWF Public Media
11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514
850 474-2787
NPR for Florida's Great Northwest
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Time For Reading, Time For The Weather


Like many people with extra time on their hands, I’ve been reading a lot. That includes rereading favorite books, helped by my lousy memory. I can reread books I like every couple of years, and still be surprised at what happens.

One reward of good writing lies in finding ideas or passages that resonate with you. One favorite author is James Lee Burke, who penned a best-selling series about a police detective in New Iberia, Louisiana, Dave Robicheaux, who is tormented by an unending string of mental demons.

I recently picked up his novel “Creole Belle,” and came across a passage that jumped out at me. The Robicheaux series includes abundant descriptions of the watery landscape of south Louisiana and of weather, which often mirror the happenings in the book, especially the tumult in the lead character’s mind.

But it was a long paragraph describing the calm at the center of one of Dave’s rare upbeat moods ends that caught me. It ends with this sentence: “At a certain time in one’s life, the ebb and flow of a tidal stream and the setting of the sun are not insignificant events.”

It immediately took me back to the day before. After a long dry spell we had finally gotten the soaking rain we needed, relieving the need to water the garden daily, even twice a day as the heat and dryness seemed to suck the water out of the ground as fast as we could dispense it. Even our rain barrels had gone dry, and we were getting more and more visitors to the garden birdbath.

That night the weather reports had promised the chance of early morning rains, but we went to bed skeptical they would come. By then we had watched several weeks of rain chances shrivel into dust, really dry dust. More than one deep stormwater holding pond had gone dry, a sure sign that rain was badly needed.

I awoke in the still dark of early morning to hear a familiar sound on our metal roof. I rose from bed and stepped out the back door onto our covered porch. Cool air carried the smell of rain to my nose and the pattering of light droplets hitting the ground serenaded my ears. I stuck a hand out from under the eaves and felt the cool wetness of a light but steady drizzle.

And just like that I felt as if some kind of weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I returned to bed and slept well to daylight. The rain strengthened before dawn and continued on through the day, exactly the kind of soaking, nurturing rainfall our garden and nature’s more expansive garden needed.

Rain days are also wonderful for granting an excuse to sit and read, and when I came across the passage in the book it immediately took me back to that early morning awakening, the smell of the rain and the cool morning air.

It was not an insignificant event, by any means.

Carl Wernicke is a native of Pensacola. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1975 with a degree in journalism. After 33 years as a reporter and editor, he retired from the Pensacola News Journal in April 2012; he spent the last 15 years at the PNJ as editor of the editorial page. He joined the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in 2012 as Senior Writer and Communications Manager, and retired from IHMC in 2015.His hobbies include reading, traveling, gardening, hiking, enjoying nature around his home in Downtown Pensacola, as well as watching baseball and college football, especially the Florida Gators and New York Yankees. His wife, Patti, retired as a senior vice president at Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union and is a Master Gardener. Carl is a regular contributor to WUWF. His commentaries focus on life in and around the Pensacola area and range in subject matter from birding to downtown redevelopment and from preserving our natural heritage to life in local neighborhoods.