On a pluvious day, having neglected to pack a parasol and wearing pervious clothing, I elected to persist a half hour longer in the Art Gallery of Ontario. I do not think modern art is dry, but I do think modern art museums are dryer than rainy streets. They also add more life and show more ways of seeing. Pulverous they are not.

I normally carry at least one camera with me, and when I’m in the AGO I tend to use it. Not on the art – go see that for yourself – but on the architecture, some (the most interesting) parts of which are by Frank Gehry. And occasionally there are people in it too. And views. Buildings across the street, seen through the rainy windowpane.

People (seated rather than supine) sleeping off the storm or the slow friends and family.

In Toronto, you can often look to the west and get a feeling from the sky where the weather is going, because that’s where the weather is usually coming from.

But when I want to know whether it’s raining at the moment, if the windows are not dripping, I look for one thing: parapluies.

An umbrella is a parasol, right? Well, the sol in parasol is for ‘sun’, but yes, it holds back the rain, and after all, the umbr in umbrella is for shadow. If I say parapluie it may seem pretentious (because French) but at least it means it’s for rain. Because the pluie refers to rain.

Because there’s always more (plus) rain to come? No, because ‘rain’ in Latin is pluvia, and that’s where French got it from. The via has nothing to do with ways (as in Via Appia and impervious) or life (as in French vie), and yet rain is a way of life. And a view of rain is also a portent of petrichor, especially in springtime.

I hope you pardon the purple prose and the mostly monochrome photographs. Everything is more beautiful after rain: the colours are more saturated, as is the chiaroscuro, as is the soil, and the shirts too. In a pluvious cityscape, I may not want to soak in the raindrops and puddles, but I do want to soak in the scenery.

5 responses to “pluvious

  1. Now I know why it bothered me when a previous prime minister referred to New Zealand as a notoriously “pluvial” country. It wasn’t just his pomposity (which attracted plenty of amusement and mockery). It was the wrong darn word, and you’ve just supplied the right one, unless I’m wrong about the shades of meaning they represent.

  2. When in museums, I often think of a line I read somewhere (paraphrased): I like museums because they have windows you can look out of.

  3. Lovely black and white pictures. I always thought “plu” was such a good way to say rain. Come visit and comment sometime!

  4. Kristi Anderson

    Oh I just felt so intelligent and learned reading the comics the other day when the Wizard of ID cartoon used an unusual word that I had recently learned from the master Word Taster.

    I was tickled pink!

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