People in Taranaki are proud of their mountain, and they’re also proud of it’s usefulness as a forecasting tool. A popular saying is that If you can’t see the mountain, it’s raining. If you can see the mountain, it’s going to rain. When I visited DOC’s Dawson Falls’ visitor’s centre in 2007, they’d pinned a very funny and typical poem on the wall, all about rain and attributed to an anonymous tramper in 1984. I neglected to write it down at the time, but I made a point to transcribe it when I visited again early this year once I found it still there:
It rained and it rained and rained and rained
The average fall was well maintained
And when the tracks were simply bogs
It started raining cats and dogs
After a drought of half an hour
We had a most refreshing shower
And then the most curious thing of all
A gentle rain began to fall
Next day was also fairly dry
Save for the deluge from the sky
Which wetted the party to the skin
And after that the rain set in
— Anonymous tramper, 1984
I thought this was the end of it — just a very amusing poem from an anonymous tramper in 1984, seemingly very New Zealand-like to me (as a New Zealander) — until I started to look around the web.
It turns out the poem’s been spotted on at least several continents. Although many sightings have been in New Zealand (such as Architect’s Creek Hut in Westland National Park) it seems unlikely that it originated here as far as I can tell. It definitely dates back much further than the 1984 that was given by DOC’s visitor’s centre staff.
The best resource I’ve so far discovered is this helpful womens’ Morris Dancing website (scroll down that page a little) which initially suggested it might have been one of Barry Crump‘s written ramblings based on his New Zealand experiences, but then notes that it was also published in the 1979 edition of the Cambridge University Ramblers’ Club songbook. This doesn’t necessarily rule out Barry Crump as he was very active in the 60’s, but unverified claims suggest it might also have appeared in the 1950 edition of the Cambridge songbook. The page collects together three distinct variations of the poem from various parts of the world, none of which exactly match the one I transcribed (though the Architect’s Creek Hut one comes close).
Wherever it originated, it certainly found its way around and people who tramp in New Zealand have adopted it quite well. I guess things people can identify with are like that. Who woulda thunk it?