The rain was steadily falling as I had brewed my first cup of coffee. I, like many, am working from the home office, which affords me a few more moments with my caffeinated ritual. I step out onto the patio and, under the wide protection of the soffit above – the result of a deep pitch – I review the scene around me.
The sun, still waking, shed an ambient hue of lilac and rose. Casting its pastel glow onto the highlights of neighboring rooftops – streaks through storm clouds – diffused into gray.
A decorative outdoor sconce, still lit by regulation through timer, brightens the stucco surrounding it, beaming into the growing puddle on the concrete path, below.
The glow makes the puddle seem like a lit dance floor from this height. Watching from the third floor, I stare at the droplets as they move along to their own rapid tempo. It’s as if a song is being played just for them, and they’re actively responding within the rippled echoes of steps – a complicated choreography.
I realized, standing there in my own theatre of nature, that this was one of my favorite sounds. I took my time, arranging my new spring plants – potted just days before. Lining them up along the railing’s bottom edge, I hoped to encourage the natural fall to land in their new soil.
I have always found rain to have such a calming effect on me, and I could have found myself in that position for quite some time if it were not for my pile of papers calling me from the office just feet away.
There I was, breathing in the fresh scent of spring air with only the slightest of interruptions wafting up from the mug in my right hand. It turns out, I’m a pluviophile.
The term Pluviophile is said to mean, “one who loves the rain”. The very root of the word – Pluvial – means “to flow or pour” and, Pluviose is defined as being “characterized by much rain” or “rainy” (5). And, according to Mica Trinidad in her own piece for Thought Catalog titled 7 Signs You’re a Pluviophile, I’m not the only one out there who happens to “find comfort in the rain” and “could listen to the rain all day” (4).
The love of the sound of rain is so popular that there are countless videos on YouTube and an entire marketplace of noise machines to choose from. All of the options are out there and willing to replicate, in a moment, allowing people dealing with real life clear skies to find their “flowy fix”.
Explaining the why behind it, Orfeu Buxton, Associate Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Pennsylvania State University, says it has to do with how our brains process threats. The “whooshing noises” are more associated with “non-threats”. Since these brains of ours are “pre-wired for survival instinct” an abrupt and loud noise “will be perceived as more of a danger by the mind” versus the gradual increase in volume associate with a rainy weather pattern (3).
Buxton continues explaining stating that, “having a masking form of noise can also help block other sounds you don’t have control over, whether someone is flushing a toilet in another part of the house, or there are taxis or traffic outside — whatever the acoustic insult is” (3).
Which is why many can find it so calming, as the consistent pattern allows the mind to drown out more of what it would consider the more alarming or sharp noise, thus lessening the feeling of urgency within the mind.
Others are more than calmed. They may find a great joy in precipitation, citing their multitudes of reasons for loving the opportunity to feel encouraged indoors. It might be the catalyst to finishing a book or a series, or even practicing a new craft. Whatever the way the day is enjoyed, there is no doubt that the brain has different ways of reacting to auditory stimuli.
One study even found that rain sounds “improved performance” during the execution of “difficult arithmetic calculations” (1)
That’s not where I was, though. Standing in the midst of the humidity, I didn’t have math on the brain. The only complicated calculations I had to navigate were those involving storylines and topic choices. Like Suzanne Kane, I too was ready to “enjoy the solidarity through universality” and get to the rest of our day, refreshed and ready to go.
As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow concluded in his poem: The Rainy Day
“Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.”
- Proverbio AM, De Benedetto F, Ferrari MV, Ferrarini G. When listening to rain sounds boosts arithmetic ability. PLoS One. 2018;13(2):e0192296. Published 2018 Feb 21. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0192296
- Kane, S. (2018). 10 Reasons Why I Like Rainy Days. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 13, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/10-reasons-why-i-like-rainy-days/
- Hadhazy, Adam. (2016). Why Does the Sound of Water Help You Sleep? https://www.livescience.com/53403-why-sound-of-water-helps-you-sleep.html
- Trinidad, Mica. (2015). 7 Signs You’re a Pluviophile. https://thoughtcatalog.com/mica-trinidad/2015/03/7-signs-youre-a-pluviophile/
- Webster’s New World Dictionary. Simon & Schuster.