Foxes in the Rain

by angeliska on August 9, 2009

Today something magical happened:
it rained while the sun was shining.
I know perhaps it’s not so very rare,
but when it does occur and the opportunity
for dancing around madly in it present itself-
well, it really is pure magic, straight-up.
The light turns golden, and the drops
are slanting out over the road, and there’s
just one big fat grey cloud pouring down
overheard in an otherwise clear blue sky.
When I watched Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams
many years ago, I learned that when this happens,
the foxes are having their wedding.
Beware unwittingly stumbling upon their procession!
Gate-crashers are punished severely.

This scene made a huge impression on me.

(Photo by Isado)
I always grew up hearing “The devil is beating his wife!”
whenever a sunshower happened- it’s apparently
a Southern thing. I peeked around and found a wealth
of lore regarding this meteorological phenomenon
(on Wikipedia, of course) which I will share now
with you, because it’s fantastic:
* In South African English, it is referred to as a “monkey’s wedding,”
a loan translation of the Zulu umshado wezinkawu, a wedding for monkeys.
In Afrikaans, it is referred to as jakkalstrou, jackals wedding, or also
“Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou as dit reen en die son skyn flou”, meaning
“Jackal marries Wolf’s wife when it rains and the sun shines faintly.”
* In Hindi it is also called “the jackal’s wedding.”
* In Bengali it is called a devil’s wedding.
* In Arabic, the term is “the rats are getting married.”
* Bulgarians speak of the Devil’s marrying.
* In Korea, a male tiger gets married.
* In various African languages, leopards are getting married.
* In Kenya, hyenas are getting married.
* One animal, the fox, crops up all over the world, from Kerala to Japan
(Japan also refers to it as ‘Kitsune (the fox) takes a bride,’);
there’s even an English dialect term, “the foxes’ wedding,”
known from the south west of England. In Calabria, Italy,
it is said that “when it rains with sun, the foxes are getting married.”
In Polish, the saying is that “when the sun is shining and the rain is raining, the witch is making butter.”
For Filipinos, “elves are getting married”, or “tikbalang” (half-horse, half-men) and a “kapre” are getting married,
while in Spain it is witches, and in Greece it is the poor.
In Lithuanian, the phenomenon is described as “orphans’ tears,”
where the sun is the grandmother drying those tears.
In Russian, it is called грибной дождь (gribnoy dozhd’), “mushroom rain,”
as such conditions are considered favorable to growing mushrooms.
It is also often referred to as слепой дождь (slepoy dozhd’}, which literally translates as “blind rain”.
In the United States, particularly the South, a sunshower is said
to show that “the devil is beating his wife.” In German, the variation is
“Wenn’s regnet und die Sonne scheint, so schlägt der Teufel seine
Großmutter: er lacht und sie weint,” or “When it’s raining and the sun shines,
the devil is beating his grandmother: he laughs and she cries.”
Similar phrases occur in Hungary and Holland. The lower Caribbean
also has a notable variant, “The devil and his wife are fighting for a bone”.
A regional variant from Tennessee is “the devil is kissing his wife.”
Well, whaddya know! What do you call it?

Today was poignant and pensive for me, so I was glad to have
such a benediction to marvel at and frolic in.
August 8th is the 22nd anniversary of my mother’s death.
Hard to fathom, really. It’s something I’ve been processing
very slowly- and for many, many years (most of my childhood)
not at all. My aunt gave me some things that were hers recently:
her hand-tooled guitar strap, her psychedelic sculpture, a painting.
There’s so much I want to understand about who she was,
and who I am- and the only way I can find to do it is by writing.

Look at her beautiful red curls! That’s me when I was very new,
and my cousin all pink-cheeked and bowl-headed.
I feel that at some point in my life, part of my work
will be focused on helping people deal with death + loss.
I get so angry when I think about how much we’ve lost the
ability to mourn our dead, and the loss of our traditions
and even our words to speak of grief. Or, truly- to listen.
It’s not something to be spoken of, or written about
these days, and that’s just wrong. I will not spend another
day of my life tip-toeing around it, and one day
I hope to change the way death is processed in this country.
Our culture has lost its memory- the roads we traveled to
get to where we are now are buried and lost.
More on this soon- it’s a subject I’m very passionate about,
and I’d be grateful to hear your views on it.
For further reading on the subject of mi madre and this date,
turn back the pages of the bee-log and read:
Triumvirate Lemniscate
Gustav + Mama – August 8th


Angel your writing is so beautiful. I can’t imagine losing a mama so young. I hope you have children some day- you know your mama loved you, but until you have your own kids you can’t possibly know how vastly deep, complex and incredible that love from your mama to you was/is- it’s unlike any other kind of love. Your parents are truly beautiful in those pix….xobunny

by Bunny on August 9, 2009 at 7:17 am. Reply #

.the little fox:

by VJESCI on August 9, 2009 at 8:22 am. Reply #

Thank you for the recognition of grief and the beautiful way of understanding and processing it. I lost my father when I was in high school and while I’ve learned to “deal with it” and move on…it still had a lasting and deep effect. Along with some of my other favorite things, I keep his photo on my bedside table – which sounds odd but it helps me keep his face in my “minds eye”…not to forget.

by Misha/DawaiOser on August 9, 2009 at 9:09 am. Reply #

We should definitely start planning for Dia de los Muertos soon. I’d still like to go on a frame hunting excursion for framing the photos of my ancestors. I’d like to do this to build an altar and maybe you’d like to join me on the frame hunting mission! Also, we should plant marigold seeds-lots of them-I have many seeds. A lovely way to honor and remember our beloved departed and invite them to visit our homes!

by Sienna O' Banion on August 9, 2009 at 11:07 am. Reply #

i just scream “RAINBOW” and run outside. but so many wedding stories? must be true, then. how funny.
i think the way you openly talk about death and mourn helps so so many people already. little magnetic thread pulling witchlet! tying people together and untying knots and letting go.
your mama, your mama. so many things happen in my head when you mention her or things come up – i’ll tell you later, i suppose. but in the way that her necklace you were wearing spoke, so do her photos & your remembrances. i am so glad that her magical things were kept and wind their way back to you through the years.
also: you are exactly a mix of your parents, visually.

by verhext on August 9, 2009 at 11:32 am. Reply #

Couldn’t agree with you more. My father died just two months ago and I’m still looking for the right words, prayers, gestures.
Came across this the other day in the Shambhala Sun:
“We see death as obscene. The Victorians had difficulties with sex but they had a very powerful death culture and were very good at commemorating it. We’re the opposite. We can talk about sex until we’re blue in the face but we cannot face death. “

by Jeff on August 9, 2009 at 3:33 pm. Reply #

Your words make a lovely altar. I lost my father when I was a child and I am just beginning to realize how little I know about him. You are so very right! As Americans, we mourn quietly and “move on” without much fuss. We need tangible things- relics, pictures, things they’ve touched- I have a swiss army knife and a threadbare Canada t-shirt. They mean the world to me. So wonderful that your mother left so many meaningful things and that they keep finding their way to you. May you be blessed with more and more…

by lanternamagica on August 9, 2009 at 9:49 pm. Reply #

When I was very young, and my mother told me “the devil was beating his wife” during a sun-shower, I got the idea in my head that he used a brass coffeepot in our house, which has a dent in it. I thought it was so terrible that anyone would hit another person hard enough to leave a dent in metal, and I was mystified about why we had the devil’s coffeepot. I wouldn’t touch it after that.
Your mother was beautiful. I’m glad you have some of her things now.

by Virginia on August 10, 2009 at 7:49 am. Reply #

I agree with everything you said towards the end of this entry. The loss of my mum is something I will be trying to understand and accept for years to come. Our culture doesn’t talk about death, and almost has a strange stigma with mourning. Overall society needs to approach loss in a different way.

by Sasha on August 10, 2009 at 10:35 am. Reply #

i tried to respond to this on the weekend, but it didn’t come out quite right. my heart is tumbling over your words for your mother. you honour her in such a true and beautiful way. as all our dead should be. you’re right, you’re so right, about mourning, about it all. i’m soaking up all these wonderful comments. i lost my own mother four years ago this friday, and i’ve been quietly preparing myself for my first year away from my sisters and the grave site. it’s been hard. but since i’ve been here i’ve been cultivating a small corner for me and for her, pictures and candles and a place of remembering away from the the place the carries the most visceral memories and traces of her. these things are important. so many thoughts going through my mind, but i’ll leave it at that now. i just wanted to say thank you for this. and to send a hug through webs and wires, from one daughter to another.

by annie on August 11, 2009 at 9:49 am. Reply #

Angeliska, great read! I just stumbled upon your page while looking for Gadjo Disko info (I’m new to Austin and just heard about it!).
I was having a really hard time last Sunday. My mind was too sharp to touch, so I aimed to tune out and went running. I ran until the secret machinists in my lungs started to drop their cranks and give up.
… and then the rain came down, making the sun into neon oil, making me laugh and hum and run some more. The devils’d marry daily if I had it my way.

by Christian.J.Thompson on August 12, 2009 at 10:09 am. Reply #

Thank you for these beautiful words. My father died when I was young too, and I hardly knew him. I agree with you about the strange way we deal with death.

by Emily Paintone on August 12, 2009 at 7:16 pm. Reply #

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