Chapter Two: The Rain

Show Notes



While moving through the rain, The Wanderer slips and hurts his ankle. He has to make the choice between using some of his magic song on his own leg to keep going, or to wait and save his magic for whatever state he might find Andrew in.



  • T.H. Ponders is The Wanderer
  • Jeanette Berry is The Forest


Written and Sound Designed by T.H. Ponders. Produced by Jordan Stillman. Music and Score by T.H. Ponders.



The Wanderer will begin after these short messages. Thank you for your support.



This episode of The Wanderer was produced on the stolen lands of the Massachusett and Catawba peoples. But the struggle for indigenous rights and sovereignty extends far beyond our own borders. Right now, the Palestinian people are facing ethnic cleansing, genocide, and colonial violence perpetuated by Israeli Settlers. Please join us in donating to PCRF, the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, who have been working since 1993 to provide humanitarian relief to the Children of Gaza. Your donations are needed now for urgent medical relief, as children are being displaced, orphaned, injured, and killed by Israeli violence. Links to where you can donate are in the show notes. Thank you.


SFX: A gust of wind.


The Wanderer is made possible by the generous support of all our incredible patrons. The last time I saw the hermit Maren, they were down in the seagrass trying to capture a fairy. Don’t think anyone has seen them since… Hmmm… 


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SFX: A gust of wind.


SFX: The sound of rain falling steadily. A rumbling clap of thunder peals. Rain continues.



When I was a boy, I used to love the rain. It’s not that I hate the rain now—but a cold fall morning drizzle isn’t quite the same as the tender warm kisses of a June afternoon thunderstorm, which seem to be fewer and fewer as the years go on. 


SFX: The timber of the rain changes. The sound of children splashing in puddles in the rain.



I can recall many a day spent running about playing tag with friends in the rain, no tunics, no cares; only a boundless energy and a complete disregard for the amount of mud that had caked onto our boots. 


SFX: A more subdued walking in the rain. 



Even as I had traded the carelessness of childhood for the cares of being somewhere between young and adult, an afternoon rain storm was the perfect time for a walk…


SFX: Footsteps walking in the wet. 



…to reflect, to smell the freshness of nature as it takes a drink. 


SFX: Thunder. Rain.



Now, though I haven’t aged too terribly far beyond that, the rain is sometimes… more drown than drink.


SFX: Guitar strumming beneath the rain.


When the rain is cold, and my mind isn’t present enough to enjoy what it might offer, it can lead to a feeling of…separation, disconnect, from myself, from my body, from the world, from time—like I might never see the sun again, like I might be trapped in some kind of eternal fall, with winter’s quiet and spring’s reunion resting ever out of my reach. These days, those feelings all manifest in my longing for Andrew, in missing him. I know this, but knowing does not make the feelings any easier to dissipate.


SFX: Guitar strumming continues. Rain and soft thunder in the distance.



That is only sometimes though. Other times I’m ok. Which is its own frustration. If it were consistent I might be able to at least… I don’t know… plan for it? On the ups, the rain isn’t a death sentence. I can have a rainy day and still make progress in the Wander. 


Today is one of those. The find was fairly easy, the path came naturally, and the forest hasn’t caught me in her wily snares yet. I’ve made really good distance today. Perhaps it’s the momentum of yesterday and I’m carrying that energy forward. Or maybe it’s some bad day in my recent past that’s taken on all of the burden and is holding the Devil at bay. But momentum doesn’t always last. I have to keep go…


SFX: The Wanderer slips in the mud. We hear him let out a gasp as he falls, the sliding and the thud. His breathing quickens. 



No branches. No plants. No cut.


SFX: The Wanderer gives a sigh of relief.  Then a cry of pain. 



Okay. Okay. 


SFX: He tries to stand up again. This time with more of a grunt and another cry of pain. 



Pity. Pity. Pity. Pity. You were doing so well. You had made it so far. 


SFX: The Wanderer lets out another cry of pain. 



You’d just started to think you might actually do this… Pity. Pity. Pity. Pity. 



I can do this. I can. I’m fine. It’s just a sprain. I’ll have to go slower but…


SFX: The Wanderer lets out another cry.



But. But. But. But. But I think I hear the Wander flitting away? You can’t keep up with it like this. Haven’t you realized yet? This whole day is wasted. Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone.


SFX: The Wanderer winces and sighs.



I’ve made it this far. And I will make it further. 



Further. Further. Further. Further. Why even bother? Don’t you see that tree up ahead? With the soft patch of moss beneath it? Its deep swooping branches can provide you some shelter. Won’t you come in from the rain? Won’t you accept the gesture of kindness? The Forest is offering you some pity, some bit of comfort. 

SFX: The Wanderer breathes in and sighs.



It’s right there. Just a few feet further. Further. Further. Further.



It’s a test. It’s always a test with the Forest. The Forest doesn’t have pity, she doesn’t offer comfort, and she doesn’t care about me. She wants to test me. Wants to know how much I’m willing to…


SFX: The Wanderer winces in pain. 



How much I’m willing to give.


SFX: The Wanderer takes out his guitar and begins tuning up the strings. He sighs.



Shame. Shame. Shame. Shame. Shame. It really is the only choice, isn’t it? When you’ve got so much wandering ahead of you, and no hope of knowing what you’ll meet at your journey’s end. Do you think it wise to waste your gift on yourself? Why don’t you just give up? Just crawl under that tree and sleep. Let your shame and pity rock you to sleep? Shame. Pity. Shame. Pity. Shame. Pity. 



No! I was doing so well today. I made it so far. It can’t all be for not. I’m not ready to stop yet. If I crawl under that tree I will be here for days. And… 



And. And. And. And. Andrew. 


SFX: The Wanderer winces.



You feel him getting closer don’t you? 



I hesitate to think it but… yes. Something… some feeling, some little shard of hope I haven’t dared give a voice. It’s kept me on this run. Kept me going for a while now. I don’t want to lose that feeling. I don’t want to lose him. I want to keep going. I want…


SFX: The Wanderer tries one more time to get up and cries.



I have to do it. I have to fix it. This might be it. 


SFX: The Wanderer continues tuning his guitar.



And. And. And. And what if you get to him and he needs your magic more? 



At least we’ll be together. Even… even without my magic… We’ll be together. That will be enough. I hope…


SFX: The Wanderer plays the Song of Healing. A simple melody is plucked out on the guitar. An ambient hum is also heard. The rain continues. More complex chords follow as the song continues.



Oh. Much better. Onward.


SFX: Another peal of thunder. Rain. A driving melody begins to play.

Comfort. Comfort is the feeling of being a boy playing tag in the rain because afterwards there’s a warm bowl of soup and a clean bath. A pair of arms to hold you. Comfort is the tender embrace of a cup of tea as you watch the raindrops trickle down the window pane. Comfort is the thing the Forest doles out in the smallest increments. 


I recall reading once of a very, very ancient band of religious folk, who believed that to feel comfort would lead to sin. Moral wrongdoing. They would starve themselves and sit upon ten foot tall poles and sleep on slabs of stone. I never could understand it, until maybe today. Until I was given a choice between comfort and Andrew. I don’t think there’s any sense in going as far as those bygone zealots, but perhaps they had their reasons. Perhaps there is some good in choosing a moment away from comfort, in drawing a line, insisting upon perseverance even though the temptation of comfort is so sweet. Maybe learning to do that makes us good. Maybe learning when to do that, and when not to, makes us even better. Or… maybe I just need to find a reason to justify what I did, the choice I made. 


I took a risk using my gift to fix my ankle. I only have so much. But… with that feeling inside of me, that feeling like I’m getting closer. It seemed a much smaller risk than the risk I might take in the embrace of comfort. And when you wander, the balance of risk is sometimes all you have. 


I can hear him, can hear a trace of his breath between the trees. The beat of his heart sometimes lines up perfectly with my footfall—only for a step and it’s gone. I heard that rhythm, the notes of that song only once before, just before I met him, just before he turned around and I saw the face of my love. I can’t afford to lose those sounds. I have to follow them. I have to keep going. The comfort of my youth will wait for another day. Perhaps I’m not giving up comfort like those ancient monks. No, I’m going in search of a greater comfort. Andrew will be my comfort, when I find him… when I find him…


SFX: Rain continues.





SFX: The rain continues and peters out. The wind blows in gusts.


SFX: Night sounds. Forest sounds. The fire crackles. Night insects and birds call. Guitar strumming.


WANDERER (singing Rain Of Mine)


The old iron king

Has a body that will rust.

And the prairies are littered

With the wagons that bust.

There’s a moment unplanned 

In the cold rains of trust,

And a hope for the damned

Between the mustn’ts and the musts.

Rain of mine, rain of mine, rain of mine.


The rules are all shallow

But the tall man still drowns.

And the people shuffle onward

Through a slowly ghosting town.

The iron king is aging

So he wears a golden crown.

And child holds his hand

As the rusting rain falls down.

Rain of mine, rain of mine, rain of mine.


We can clean up the prairies,

But the ghosts still remain.

And the child takes the crown

To begin their just reign.

Between the mustn’ts and the musts

Theres a freedom from the pain—

A freedom born of hope 

As the world is cut in twain.

Rain of mine, rain of mine, rain of mine.

Rain of mine, rain of mine, rain of mine.

Rain of mine, rain of mine, rain of mine.

Rain of mine, rain of mine, rain of mine. 

Rain of mine, rain of mine, rain of mine. 


SFX: Gust of wind. Music underneath.



The Voice of The Wanderer is T.H. Ponders. The Voice of The Forest is Jeanette Berry. The Wanderer is written and sound designed by T.H. Ponders. Produced by Jordan Stillman. Show art and design is by V Silverman. Additional art by Olivia Li.


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Our special thanks goes out to Sean Howard, Russ More, Christina Orlando, Elka Carl, Jeff Van Dreason, and Chad Ellis. 


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Maren says: “Right now, I’m finding hope in the stories I encounter, and in the steps I’m taking to craft my own.” And Alexander says: “I’ve been brewing secret plans to make a blue cheese ice cream, which is precisely the right level of “thrill of the taboo” to keep me going.”


We want to hear what’s giving you hope right now. Head over to Apple Podcasts or Podchaser, and leave a review! Tell us what gives you hope and we may just read it out on the show! 


Please stay safe, and thank you for wandering with us. 

SFX: Upbeat music continues.



Need a show to listen to while you wait for the next episode of The Wanderer? Why not check out the delightful fantasy travel show Signed, Venus, one of my favorite shows to debut last year. Take a listen. 





I notice that your first destination is Arabella, but… that’s not on your way.



It’s the first destination The Writer went to… it’s sacred.





[laughter] Oh, how excited are you, on a scale of one to ten?








I thought the waters at Coast Venus were clear… This is… that’s something else!



Visitors… of course.



You’re Captain Valeria, right? Of The Ultramarine?



Yup, that’s me! And that’s her – The Ultramarine.



Sentimentality is a virtue of ours. It is ingrained in our people.



I’m sure such a thoughtful gift will cheer her right up.







One of the most important people we have to meet is in Arabella.



Who was this person?



Uh… no one knows, actually.








Do you two know anything?!



You can find a link to Signed, Venus in the show notes. Go give it a listen, leave them a review on Apple Podcasts or Podchaser, and let them know we sent you.