Gravett, Amron. “The 13 Ways of Rain,” MaryJanesFarm, April-May 2014, 24.
I am so fortunate to have memories of rain so rich, so damp that years later, although I now live in the desert, I can still conjure them to my senses. It’s funny. What’s a girl from the Pacific Northwest doing raising a family in the dryness of the Southwest? Doesn’t make much sense. As a gypsy most of my life, I would wander in search of water. I would wander, sensing the ocean for miles before the shoreline appeared. Wander in search of gray clouds, of deeply soaked grass or earth-smelling, muddy pools.
As a girl, the spring rains would flood our soccer fields. A morning of soccer in April would leave my three layers of socks so wet, toes so soggy, than we would have to strip down naked and get in the tub to warm up. Getting wet to dry out. We’d even swim while it was raining. I can still feel the total wetness. Skin thoroughly wet, inside and out, bottom to top. Joyfully, we would try to catch the drops as they splashed on the water’s surface.
As a young woman, I moved to Hilo, Hawaii. Second only to Seattle as the wettest place on earth, or so they claimed. Spring rains in Hilo were so different. They were island rains. A torrential deluge of the heavens penetrating into the new lava flow. So shallow was the earth’s crust that o’hia lehua flowers would wriggle their fine, red tendrils up through the black crust after only a week on their new home. I would leave my windows open at night to invite the hot, soothing dampness into my dreams. Even my shoes and pictures got moldy. My school’s mascot was a rainbow, a glorious representative of what the rains and the sun produce in abundance on this island paradise.
I suppose it’s apropos that as a grown woman, I should choose to live in the high desert. Here, spring is not our time for rain. We get summer monsoons. Just when you think you cannot bear the summer heat any longer, the skies open up and release a year’s worth of moisture in six weeks. We can set our clocks by the predictability of these rains. Every late afternoon, dark billows gather in the sky, thunder stomps down, and everything pauses. If we happen to be inside, we get a two-minute warning from the light plinking on the roof. Then it turns to hooves pattering, and then it’s here. Like an on/off switch, it rains … and then it stops. We run outside, faces upturned, grinning, with arms outstretched. Bring this rain and bring it again tomorrow! Our life depends upon it.
Tonight, my son and I settle in for bedtime stories. We are delighted at the treasure that was buried in the stacks at the children’s library. We read the 1956 book titled The Happy Rain by Jack and Maurice Sendak. It’s a quirky tale about a village that has perpetual rain … until one day it doesn’t. The villagers go to great (and bizarre) lengths to bring the rain back, because they cannot fathom life without constant rain. Then one day, it returns. Not because of the wise advice of an old man, a philosopher, or a scientist (their suggestions didn’t work), but because of a balloon containing a message to the clouds, secured in a bottle that two children set aloft. The message read, “Really, really—we DO love you!”
“The richness of the rain made me feel safe and protected; I have always considered the rain to be healing—a blanket—the comfort of a friend. ” – Douglas Coupland