First published in 1932, “After the Storm” is told by a first-person narrator, an unnamed sponge fisherman who is also the principal character of the story. Set in the Florida Keys circa 1930, the story begins with the narrator engaged in a fight with another man in a local bar. Although their dispute is trivial, the combatants go at each other with unrestrained ferocity. When his attacker seizes the narrator’s throat and begins to choke him, the sponge diver manages to pull out a knife, and he slashes his assailants arm. He then leaves for his small boat. He takes to the sea after bailing out the water that has collected in the craft from a recent storm.
As the narrator sails along the seacoast, he encounters wreckage from the storm. He first spies the masts of a ship that is partially submerged, but he reckons that it is too far below the waves for him to salvage it. He then notices a flock of gulls in the distance and heads toward them. He comes upon a large steamship that has run aground, and his mind immediately turns to the money and other riches that probably remain on board. He tries to enter the vessel through a porthole through which he sees a dead woman, her hair floating on the water. But he is unable to break through with the wrench that he carries. He undertakes several additional dives using different makeshift tools, but he is not successful and reluctantly abandons his quest.
When the narrator returns to land, he is told that the man he has stabbed is not gravely wounded. He is nonetheless arrested, but his friends in the tavern tell the authorities that his victim first came at the narrator with an axe, and this lie wins his release. A week-long bout of foul weather prevents the sponge diver from returning to the steamship. When he does finally reach it again, he finds that he is too late. “Greeks” have blown the ship and its safe open with dynamite, stripping the derelict liner of its riches. The narrator reconstructs the events that must have occurred on the night that it sank, taking 450 passengers and the ship’s crew to watery graves. He learns that an enormous jewfish now occupies the water beneath its hull. The story ends as the narrator bitterly recounts that the Greeks got the riches, the jewfish got a home, and that even the birds that brought his attention to the steamship “got more out of her than I did.”
Describing the rain. I hope to give you all the information you need to write a descriptive scene using the rain.My new book ‘Writing with Stardust’, is now available on Amazon. It is the ultimate descriptive guide for students and teachers. Just click on any of the book images below.
The FULL post with 5 levels can be viewed in PDF by clicking here:
DESCRIBING THE RAIN
I looked out the window. The sky was tar-black and the large clouds were moving towards me. I heard a tapping on the window and then it became a pitter-patter. People ran for cover outside and umbrellas were opened as the clouds spat out their beads of water. Puddles began plinking as the rainfall became heavier. The roofs of the cars danced with spray and I could hear the murmuring of the rain through the window. It sounded like the buzzing of angry bees.
For a Level 2 assignment, more detail should be added. Imagine the effect of the rain on the trees and include more detail on the sky and clouds. At the end of the paragraph, try to write something about the sun coming out. This will vary your writing style.
I quickened my pace as the clouds began to gather in the sky. Up to now, the sky had been postcard-perfect, but it was changing. The beautiful cocktail-blue shade was beginning to darken into gravel-grey. Large pillows of cloud were forming, blotting out the old-gold colour of the sun.
I got the first splatter of rain when I was halfway across the meadow. I took shelter under an old oak, hoping that I could see out the shower. Droplets of moisture began to drip from the leaves. They were sprinkling onto the grass like a gardener’s hose. Then the rainfall became more intense. A wall of rain moved over the oak and the drops were drumming against the canopy. So much rain was falling that the sound blurred into one long, whirring noise. It reminded me of the rotor blades on a helicopter. Eventually, the noise lessened and the drops faded into a musical chime.
The sun came out again, casting slanted beams of light across the meadow. Steam rose slowly from the grass. It rose up eerily and drifted mist-like towards the molten-gold sun. The image was so vivid that it stayed with me all the way home.
Level 3 should conjure up a scene where the rain’s effect can be explored in more detail. The words should get more complex also. An idea might be to visualise a forest scene in autumn, for example. Transport yourself there and describe the colours, the sensations and the sounds of the rain.
It began as a whispering in the air. The day had been beautiful and the sky was like a dome of plasma-blue. The clouds had looked like airy anvils drifting under the gleaming disc of sun.
We had put our tent up just before the Reaper’s moon of autumn appeared over the trees. The moon seemed to turn the leaves into a flaming patchwork of colours: scorching-yellows, lava-reds and burnished-browns. It added an alien glamour to a perfect scene. We heard a greedy thrush, snail a-tapping on rock; he finished his supper before fluttering into the owl-light of the forest. The mournful cry of a lonely fox echoed through the vault-still silence of the trees.
A huffing wind rose up then, stirring the flaps of our tent. A tinkling sound came to our ears as the first pearls of rain dropped onto the leaves. The sound was like the glassy clinking of a champagne flute, lilting and clear. A sheet of rain passed over us and the sound intensified. The noise on the tent was like the phut-phut-phut that ripened nuts make when they hit the ground. It wasn’t the soft, sodden, swollen drops of spring we were hearing; it was like ball-bearings were hitting the canvas roof with force. We could also hear an occasional ker-plunking sound. It was caused by the rainwater gathered on the tent falling to the ground in a great swash of release.
The thermometer plunged as we huddled together and shivered in the tent. For a brief moment, we thought that we might be doomed adventurers, destined to get swept away in a mighty flood. We needn’t have worried. The curtain of rain passed over by the time dawn arrived. An explosion of birdsong erupted from the dripping trees and it was if the rain had never been.
A Level 4 assignment might involve a degree of philosophy. You can discuss how the rain is both life giving and life threatening. The metaphors should be more creative and the turn of phrase made more enriching.
‘The sun enables life. The rain grants it safe passage’.
The winter sky is a widow’s sky, bedarkened and weeping. The clouds are churlish and kraken-cruel. They cough out great gouts of water and thunking balloons of sopping moisture. It teems down in a biblical deluge, flooding the rivers, drowning the fields and overflowing the dams. It is a Noah’s-Ark cataclysm of rain, an unending cataract of water sluicing from the sky. Trees are uprooted, cars go bobbing by and entire villages disappear under a frothy lather of suds. Cities are overwhelmed and electricity blackouts have people living in fear of the unknown. The rain is incessant. It snaps and crackles like bracken pods in a bush fire. The flood-gates in the sky have been opened and no-one is there to close them back up, it seems.
Is this the scene from a sci-fi movie? Is it a terrifying vision of a future world? Indeed it is not. It is the new reality for people from Missouri to Manchester, from Mumbai to Melbourne. The rain is man’s new enemy, according to news reports. It is public enemy number one. It has betrayed man and is now the most destructive arrow in nature’s quiver. The rain has a bad ‘rep’ at the moment. Is this how it should be viewed? Maybe we are forgetting the gifts it bestows upon us.
The spring sky is a fragile, pellucid-blue. The clouds are frail and angel-white. They are carried on a light, ruffling breeze. The soil of Mother Earth is titanium hard and in need of nourishment. A misty rain falls down. It is as frail as a Scottish smirr and its misty dew feels like warm butter melting on a face. As it falls, it unlocks the glassy fingers of winter’s frosty fist, one by one. Flowers slowly unfurl in the meadows and ripple like coral arms at low tide. The rivers exhale with a murmurous purr of satisfaction. The spring rains are here and they are as sinless and glistening as an angel’s tears.
The summer sky is neon-blue and vibrant. The sun-crisped flowers of the meadow are wilting. They gape at the tufty clouds and beg for their parched petals to be given one more shot of insulin. The clouds oblige and rain descends in little gleam-drops of silver. If you were to stand in the meadow, the drops would feel as sparkly and effervescent as champagne bubbles hitting your skin. The sound of the rain is a harmonic thrumming, nature’s white noise. Silver trickles of water seep into the soil, renewing the life-roots of the plants beneath. A homely, baked-earth smell rises from the land as it is washed and cleansed by the dewy tears of summer rain. Petrichor, the smell of the first rains after a dry spell, rises like a miasma. It is a jasmine-and-gingerbread fragrance, warm and fresh, and it laves the land with sweetness. The farmer is happy. The rain has giveth what the sun would taketh away.
The autumn sky is dark and vengeful. Steaming shrouds of cloud coil and writhe. Then an unearthly caterwauling sound fills the air. The wind whips up into frenzy. It is a shrieking, keening omen of the carnage to follow. The clouds race across the sky, thrumming with the charged energy they are desperate to release. It starts with big, sopping drops of moisture. They are wild and indiscriminate, plump missiles of mass destruction that splatter onto the soft soil. The topsoil turns into slushy goo, but it doesn’t matter. The harvest has been taken in and the farmer stokes the glowing coals with a poker and a sigh of contentment. The rain is sissing and hissing off the roof, teeming onto the spongy earth. The farmer thinks about how most gifts come with a cost. He shudders at the thought of another winter, but counts his blessings that the rain has once again ensured his livelihood.
To him, the rain is the nectar of the gods and the serum of the sky. He is neither philosopher nor ancient mariner, neither writer nor jungle adventurer, yet he understands the importance of nature’s bounty.
If beauty is God’s signature, then rain is his final flourish.
Level 5 is available to read on my new book called ‘Writing with Stardust’ which is on Amazon. It also gives the sounds of rain in more detail. Everything on my blog posts AND MUCH, MUCH MORE are included in this book. There are 20 chapters jam-packed with colours, sounds, scents, beautiful phrases and practical tips. It also comes with a fill-in-the-blanks workbook. Hopefully, this post will help those who need guidance on describing the rain. God bless and good luck with your writing!
For much more of the above, please check out my book Writing with Stardust by clicking on the book images..