La pluie


La pluie

It has been a long, dry summer here in France. The earth is parched, the fields bleached by the sun. Normally the final days of August and early September bring a few big storms but so far they have missed us. This morning, the rain has rarely been so welcome.

La pluie is not something we often rejoice over here in France. It is not like the English rain, so light and prevalent. When it rains here, it pours. And generally brings with it a mood that is like the weather – maussade (pronounced: moh-sad) Meaning gloomy, dull, sad.

Perhaps that is why I used to confuse the verbs ‘pleuvoir’ and ‘pleurer’. To rain and to cry. I may have once told my husband that his mother was raining. Things could be stormy when she was around, so it may not have been entirely unintentional.

Long ago I gave up on trying to find the logic behind the attribution of gender in French. No matter how you try, you have a 50/50 chance of getting it right. I find you have greater success if you let your instincts rather than your memory guide you. Somehow la pluie feels right. Rain must surely be feminine, just as wind – le vent – is masculine.

I love the smell of rain. I love the way it sounds upon the roof. I love to sit outside on my balcony and watch the patterns it makes across the sky over the Léman, as I did in this photo from last summer.

Perhaps what I love most about the rain is that it forces me to sit inside and ponder it. Curl up and read a book, enjoy the comfort of being warm and dry inside. And some of my fondest memories of childhood are running around outside as the skies opened up after a hot dry spell.

J’aime la pluie.

Et toi?

46 thoughts on “La pluie

  1. I love rain. It brings back childhood memories: dog walking in my wellies, and jumping in puddles. I even recall my friend and I donning swimming costumes and washing our hair in one particular downpour (we were about 11, I might add!) and to this day I could swear that is the softest my hair has ever been.

    I too particularly like the first real rains after a hot spell, and recently discovered a lovely word that sums it up nicely:

  2. Rained here in Septème too at long last. I love being out in the Summer rain that smells strangely ozone-like. I don’t like going out in the cold Winter rain that seeps through to your bones.

  3. I also used to confuse pleuvoir with pleurer! Rain is always welcome after a dry spell – in Greece we pray for it! However, I can’t say I like days winter days when it never stops…

  4. Last weekend, we went to a dinner party with neighbors. All the talk was drought and flood. The ground was as hard as concrete, and, as you point out, when it rains it often pours torrentially. The combination results in flash floods, like one in 1999 that nearly consumed one neighbor’s house and that damaged the homes of several others present. So when the rain came on Tuesday night, there was huge relief to hear it soft and steady. A nice soaking. Everything immediately turned green again. And husband tends to get in a downright nasty mood when it rains (he moved south for a reason) even he was happy that showers finally came.
    I also made the rain/cry error. And gender? Ha! My husband says it’s uncanny that I almost always get it wrong, whereas a random guess would be right 50% of the time.

    1. Whenever I complain about the weather, thinking of those who lost so much in those floods is a reality check. It’s been fairly soft and steady here, too…hopefully your husband will not be too grumpy if it continues!

  5. I’d never go as far as saying I love the rain. The UK rarely ever gets too day or parched because the rain is never a rarity. A light shower is quite refreshing whilst a downpour seems to shrink us with the pressure. All we ever hear when it rains is “Well at least the plants like it”.
    Try to stay dry and not get gloomy.
    xxx Gigantic Hugs xxx

    1. The novelty hasn’t worn off just yet so the mood is still bright. And the plants are having a field day, as my husband so nicely puts it. Thanks for your cheer, David! 🙂

  6. Well, now I know that the damn roof is sound again, the rain holds no fear.
    I recall earlier years in our restoration project spent sitting in the UK wondering which room was flooded en France.

    Re gender; HA! my biggest issue along with conjugating tenses.
    My French tutor used to say that one must feel it. Sadly, I am sensitive to many things but not French gender attribution.

    1. A good roof makes all the difference – it must’ve been awful imagining all your hard work being dripped upon! As for gender, I think your tutor is right but it takes time. Just forget about it and eventually it will come (unless you are like Jane Birkin who still says ‘le chaise’ after 40 years!)

    1. We get lots of good storms around here, and sometimes even in the winter which always surprises me. Rarely as much sun as we had this summer, though. I think we need both to appreciate!

    1. It’s not so hard to see the difference in the infinitive forms as the endings are so different. But when somebody says ‘il pleut’ as opposed to ‘il pleure’, it becomes more subtle. And both involve precipitation! 😉

  7. Often, I love the rain. However this year, since returning home from our wonderful vacation in France and Switzerland, I have been bragging that the weather was great! I told everyone “we did not get even one drop of rain!”. Perspective is everything! 😀

  8. I hate British rain, it’s like it can’t be bothered with itself.
    It’s raining because it feels it must, not because it’s passionate about it’s role.
    France rain, however, I love.
    We often holiday in the Var for a week at a time, I always hope that one of those days will rain, ideally storm. I love the build up in the air, I love the downpour. It rains like it means it. And I love the after, the clean smell. Like the slate is wiped clean ready to start again!

    1. Ha, ha, you are very hard on your soft British rain! And oh, yes, that smell….hope you get a nice storm to clear the air one year – it’s always more dramatic in the south.

  9. Rain in France sounds like Rain here in New Mexico. Late Summer through October the Monsoons come…4:00 in the afternoon…you could almost set your clock…the clouds build, the sky turns from blue to black and then the rain comes – heavy and strong for about 30 minutes. Just enough time for a rainbow to appear and then to see the sun set. Love your descriptions of the rain. 🙂

  10. I LOVE rain. Proper big fat wet rain in preference to mizzly drizzle and I love the world just after the rain has stopped – that wonderful smell and the water glinting and gleaming wherever you look and the chance of a rainbow to ice the damp bun. I do not love trying to attribute the right gender in French – that 50/50 translates as a sure fire I’ll get it wrong in my case!!

    1. *Ice the damp bun’ LOL! You are certainly well-served in deepest France with dramatic rains. I think the more you try with gender, the worse it gets. It’s like diversity, you just have to accept it for what it is! ;-P

  11. We had rain here yesterday after a spell of hot hot days and it was a refreshing welcome. But I love rain best when I’m inside looking out and listening to its drum. I hate it when I’m trudging to work, waiting in the wet at the bus stop or carrying bags while juggling the umbrella out shopping.

    1. Oh I am with you there – wet weather is best appreciated from indoors. Only time I like being outside in the rain is when I go out in the garden and perform a happy dance after a long dry spell!

  12. My first-born and faithful proofreader just informed me that I had made a mistake in spelling ‘maussade’ (now corrected, but previously shown as ‘mossade’). He is 27 today. Joyeux anniversaire, Elliott!

  13. J’adore la pluie! Being Irish, I have no choice but to have a fondness for it. I get quite irate when the NYC weathermen promise me a full day of rain and by lunchtime the sun is splitting the trees. A rainy day here is a treasure to be thoroughly appreciated because it is quite rare.

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