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Column - Rain again. Who's complaining? Not me!

Rain, rain, rain...

People complain about it. Not me.

Like the Beatles sang in "Rain," one of their best (but least-known) songs: "When the rain comes, they run and hide their heads, they might as well be dead, when the rain comes, when the rai-a-a-n comes ... Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain - I don't mind."

I spent the better part of this afternoon - Saturday, June 12 - pleasantly at home, putsing around, pondering out the kitchen windows and watching and listening to that sweet benediction called rain.

With the threat - rather, I should say "promise" - of rain looming, I attended the Sartell SummerFest Parade, which was a lot of fun. Except for a few drops, the rain held out through most of the parade. Back home, the drip-drops increased slowly to a pitter-patter and then to a gentle drizzle. The sound of raindrops galloping on my two skylights is as soothing as the racket rain makes when you're inside a tent, damp but cozy under quilts, camping by a lake.

When it rains, I can smell through the open windows the wet earth of the lawn and my garden beds. Mixed with the wet-asphalt-concrete smell of sidewalk-plus-street, that earth-grass-weed aroma is the olfactory definition of hot summer itself. Oh, it brings me back! And, oh, it brings me forward! Established long ago in those hot watermelon summers, the aromatic combo is a stone-skip wave that keeps coming back, keeps making happy even happier.

Rain always does that for me. In my youth, when it rained, there was always an indescribable melancholy happiness that settled on my elm-lined neighborhood. Our down-the-block friends, soggy as sponges in a downpour, would run up the alley and pop into our back door as mom gathered towels to dry them off. Then, we kids and our buddies - stuck happily together indoors - would sit home at the round oak dining-room table, playing cards and board games or putting together, with intense concentration, plastic models of airplanes and cars. My parents and my friends' parents would sit around the dining-room table, smoking cigarettes, drinking beers and talking about stuff we kids didn't understand.

Sometimes, overhearing a word or two, I used to wonder WHAT are they talking about? Can't they talk our language?

One rainy day (it was a Noah's Ark kind of rain), our families spent nearly two whole days together in our house. Rain was pounding against the windows, so loudly we had to raise our voices to be heard. We kids were playing knock-down-dominoes on the linoleum floor. I can still remember mom saying to neighbor Alma, "Well, I guess she's P.G."

I blurted out, "Hey, Mom, what does P.G. mean? Part German?"

Ma and Alma burst out laughing.

"Well, yes, kind of," Mom said. "She is partly German, come to think of it."

Then they laughed even louder. I didn't get the joke until years later. Almost every time I hear a downpour, I can still hear Alma and Mom laughing.

Rainy days tend to bring people together. Like blizzards, they can bring out the best in people who huddle together in shelter from the storm. And one reason I love rain now is because it seems to condense so many happy times in one exhilarating rush of memory. Sitting at the oak table in the kitchen, sipping a nice hot cup of coffee, watching raindrops splatter against the large windows, smelling earth and cut grass wafting in through the screen door, letting the pleasant invasion of time and memory waft across my mind.

As I write this, the lazy drizzle of rain has trickled down to a trip-trot. A mourning dove is cooing in the back yard. The Weather Channel, so often wrong, is promising the possibility of a thunderstorm later tonight. Dare I hope? Even rain-hating neighbors always tingle with excitement at the possibility of a rip-snorting thunderstorm. They'll be over tonight, complaining about "more rain," but at the same time loving every wet minute of it.

Dennis Dalman, a former reporter for the Echo Press, is a regular contributing columnist to the Opinion page. He is currently the editor of the St. Joseph Newsleader. He can be reached via e-mail at