Pitter Patter

I have always liked the rain. That’s probably a good thing living here in Panama where there is a distinct “rainy” season.

As a kid from the first grade until the seventh, we used to evacuate the suburbs around Boston and head to Nickerson State Park from the day school let out until the day after Labor Day.

DSCN0020 copy

My mom and dad slept in a small travel trailer…

Trailer @ Nickerson copy

My brothers, David and Gary, and I slept in an Army Surplus wall tent like this one…


I loved it when it rained. The sound of the rain drops on the canvas roof of the tent was like music to me. It lulled me to sleep many a night or put me back to sleep on a morning with the pitter patter of the rain.

When I was a teenager we had two sailboats that we kept at Quonset Pond in South Orleans. One was a Sunfish-type sailboard that I used to take and creep into tiny out of the way spots along the shores of Pleasant Bay. I learned where a lot of the sea birds nested which came in handy years later when I owned Nauset Tours, a beach taxi business. The other boat was an O’Day Daysailer that was kept on a mooring ball. It was fitted out with a canvas boom tent. This is a piece of canvas fastened to the mast at the forward end and draped over the boom all the way to the stern to keep rainwater out of what was, essentially an open boat with a small cuddy cabin. There were times when it was raining and I’d been let off work at the restaurant at the beach when I’d drive down to Quonset Pond, row out to the Daysailer and take a nap falling asleep to the sound of the rain on the canvas of the boom tent and the slap lapping of the pond’s wavelets against the hull.

I loved it when it rained when I was living on my beloved Kaiser26, Nancy Dawson. Sleeping in the port section of the vee berth forward the deck was only a couple of feet over my head so naturally the sound of the rain was close. It would be hot, even at night, in Fort Lauderdale in August and September. Before going to bed I’d set up a box fan in the main hatch blowing OUT and open the forward hatch which was over the vee berths. The box fan would pull the air into the boat through the forward hatch and expel it out into the cockpit. By morning it would be so cool (relatively) that I’d have pulled a blanket over myself to stay comfortable. And when showers passed overhead at night I’d feel the raindrops that made it through the open hatch to pelt me on my shoulders. It was just enough to let me know what was happening and I’d without getting up I’d reach up with one arm and let the hatch fall into the down position and the sound of the rain would have me back in dreamland in seconds.

It’s been years since I’ve been lulled by the sound of rain overhead. Oh, there were some times when I was house-sitting in Potrerillos Arriba when I’d slip outside and lay down in a hammock on the broad patio out back (patio, by the way is what the Panamanians call your entire yard around the house, and free-range chickens are referred to as pollo al patio.) but as nice as that was, it wasn’t the same thing.

The next to last time I heard that wonderful roof music was my last visit a year ago over to Bocas del Toro to look at a boat that might be for sale. On each of my trips over to the other side of the Continental Divide I’ve stayed at a small hotel just outside of the craziness of “downtown” Bocas Town, Dos Palmas. It’s built out over the water and the place has a tin roof. I remember being pleasantly awoken a couple of times in the middle of the night to the sound of rain on the roof. Contentment.

Almost all the houses here in Panama have tin roofs, and I’m talking NEARLY ALL, not just cheap, shoddily constructed places like that which I just moved into. The ceiling is a standard 2’X2’ drop ceiling and there’s nothing between it and the tin roofing. So, like right now as I sit here typing this and the tantalizing aromas of chicken curry waft around it’s pouring down rain and I’m loving every drop that hits the roof.


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2 responses to “Pitter Patter

  1. There’s nothing like being aboard in the rain. Nothing. I always loved it. I’ve had some tin-roof-and-rain experiences, too, and they have equal charm.

    I’ve never heard the expression pollo al patio. That certainly beats “yard hens,” although the concept seems the same.

    It’s good to see your post. I take it the internet connection’s working out for you.

  2. gb

    You can get, for less than a dollar, recorded rain sounds and play them whenever you wish. They make wonderful “white noise,” and cancel out other peoples’ noise. I find it to be an excellent sleep aid, in addition to being pleasant on its own — sort of like nature’s music.