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  • Last modified 107 days ago (April 6, 2017)

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Listen to the rhythms

Overcast rainy days send me spinning back to the days of my rather awkward adolescence, when I’d often be found sprawled across my bed looking out my Elm St. second-story bedroom window toward Mud Creek. There was no better place to watch lightning-filled fronts roll in from the west while vinyl records fought with wind-whipped tree branches for sonic superiority.

I was 4 years old when the Cascades came out with “Listen to the Rhythm of the Falling Rain,” a doleful tune that a decade later seemed to define my minimal teen forays into romance with its signature line, “The only girl I ever loved has gone away ….” Funny how that worked; each one seemed to be the only one. But it was the perfect platter to spin in the storms while wallowing as only adolescents can do in the throes of agony over lost love.

The rhythm of rain has been a bit fickle in its appearance in recent years, cycling us through bouts of drought and abundance, often drenching us at just the wrong times.

A couple of years ago, steady December drizzle revealed just how bad some of our rural roads were, setting the stage for a spring rain debacle that eventually washed away a road and bridge superintendent. Heavy rains led to swollen rivers and the opportunity to make a mint on “I survived 190th Rd.” T-shirts, if only I’d have had that thought when news of its closure and impending collapse was fresh.

This week, farmers anxious to get corn in the ground will have to wait a little longer, and high school athletes with high hopes have had to keep their competitive spirits in check. The timing isn’t good, but it could be worse.

Whenever a storm sweeps through, there’s little better place to listen to the rhythm of the falling rain than the back shop here at the Record. It’s a large open room with a metal roof, and when droplets begin to strike it the sound is amplified and intensified, as if someone overhead was pouring out a bucket of coarse sand and pea gravel over our heads. Many times we dash through the roar certain that rain is pouring through open car windows, only to find upon opening the back door that it’s just scattered drops. Much ado about nothing.

Rhythms are who we are, hearts beating, lungs breathing, so ingrained as to be invisible until a rhythm is disrupted.

Rhythms are what we live, no better illustrated than the ingrained synchronicity farmers and ranchers have with the seasonal rhythms of a ball of rock rotating 1,000 miles an hour, hurtling at 67,000 miles per hour on a 584 million mile elliptical race track around a searing hot burning gas orb.

It’s when we’re out of sync with those familiar rhythms that we’re most aware of them. It’s when we try to change rhythms we’ve become accustomed to that we encounter resistance, even when the rhythm is offbeat. Familiarity can be as seductively delusional as a wily serpent when the rhythm of change is afoot.

News is often about disruptions of familiar rhythms, whether it’s about folks trying to convince other folks to break the shackles of deep-seated community loyalties and differences that hold us back economically or dogs biting postal carriers. Gratefully, in small towns like ours, news is also about celebrating the rhythms of life that make our homes special.

Pay attention to them all. When a rhythm is unfamiliar, embrace the rhythm of discomfort to learn about it and be open to possibilities. Light rains and pouring thunderstorms are strikingly different, but both have glorious rhythms. Don’t abandon the old, familiar rhythms entirely, but don’t let them hold you back.

That being said, it’s time for one more listen to the Cascades while looking out my office window at the rain-soaked landscape of the courthouse lawn. I’d gotten through reminiscing about Pam, Rene, Betsy, and Janis on the first go-round, but it’ll take another play to cover the rest. After all these years, I have that rhythm down pat.

— david colburn

Last modified April 6, 2017

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