Wednesday, 18 April 2012

ELEMENTS ~ Rain Rain

A charming depiction of children and dog in the rain.
 Unknown origin, possibly Mabel Lucy Atwell.
It is generally true, that old saying  'April showers bring May flowers'. We are having a bit more than just showers though. While there is a hosepipe ban in parts of England and threats of a drought, here in Wiltshire/Berkshire it's been raining for 3 days. Today you really could have said that it was raining cats and dogs. It came down sideways in great sheets and sleet covered the walks. Birds could not fly in it, umbrellas were turned inside out and our greenhouse cover blew across the village green!

Raining cats and dogs (and pitchforks!) from a cartoon by Cruickshanks
There are a lot of funny old sayings in England and "raining cats and dogs" is one of my favourites.  Used to describe an especially heavy rain, it is still in common usage today and few who say this question what it really means or where it came from. It's origins are hard to trace. There is evidence that it was used in the 17th century but it may be even older. There are a number of explanations of how it came into usage, none of which make sense or can be confirmed.

The most widely circulated is that in the 16th-century many homes had thatched roofs and animals could crawl into the thatch and find shelter from the elements, and then fall out during heavy rain. Hard to see a dog clambering up there though.

One of my favourite local thatched cottages, actually a terrace of three
which were once a toll cottage
I think it is far more likely just one of those deightful colloquialisms which caught on, got written down somewhere and made it's way into the magical folklore of language.

The sleet in our garden this morning
I like rain, perhaps not this hard or windy, but I love the way it makes all things fresh again. And while it is raining it is a good excuse to get on with tasks in the house, so I leave you with this small collection of rain art and items. Beautiful I think and sadly not mine.

I think the movement in this is wonderful.
By Giuseppe Armani, at the Florence Sculpture d’Arte

Whoo (pun!) could resist this owl umbrella stand?
It's on Amazon for $140.00

The artists's name is not legible on this, it is such a pretty print.


  1. A very interesting post - I think every time I now pass a thatched cottage when its raining I shall have visions of cats and dogs all sitting in there sheltering from the elements!!
    One of my favourite memories of our recent holiday to Dorset was when we were having a walk in the woods and it started to rain, just lightly but enough to produce that lovely fresh smell of the earth becoming damp.
    It's certainly raining cats and dogs here at the moment too.....
    Essie x

    1. Essie, How funny! Now that you mention it I will probably view thatch in a slightly suspicious manner too. Hope you stay dry and warm. x

  2. Hi Minerva, thought I would drop by to say hello. Love your blog, I also like anything vintage and of course my furry family of 5 cats and 2 dogs. Hope this weather improves but I will admit I also like the rain...Hugs Chrissy xx

    1. Thank you Chrissy, I envy you - 5 cats and 2 dogs. Bliss. x

  3. I like a rainy day as long as rain is soft and gentle. ‘April showers bring May flowers'is wonderful expression!! Recently we have experienced sudden hard rains. They are nicknamed "guerrilla torrential rains”. I guess it is harder than raining cats and dogs. I just thought this expression means if cats and dogs fight on a tin roof, it is so noisy like the sound of hard rain falling.
    Thanks a lot for interesting information and topics!
    Collection of rain art is so wonderful.
    Have a great week!

  4. Keiko - I also like your saying "guerrilla torrential rains", and I think most people would agree that this is quite similar to 'cats and dogs' rain. The tin roof explanation is great too. I love these old sayings. You have a great week too!

  5. Greetings from one feline lover to another....such a charming blog...Hoping your day is kind to you!xxx


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