I awoke last night and heard it.
All the windows in the bedroom were open and I did not think for one minute about shutting them. That sound was so beautiful to my ears. The last rain our area received was in February and we were in New Zealand.
All told, it had been about a year since I had really seen rain from my windows, so even though it was about 1:30 a.m., I got out of bed and went out on my front porch just to see, hear, smell and touch the rain.
Our area is in a severe drought, with little or no relief in sight for a long time. Of course, there are the dire consequences that come with the drought. The newspaper tells us each day about what the lack of water will do to our agriculture and how it impacts our every day activity. We are on alert, ever watchful, ever-preserving the precious liquid.
Standing there last night watching the rain, I realized that rain quenches not only the ground and the crops, but also our souls. Hearing the rain last night, I felt nourished. I felt secure. I felt like part of the earth again. There was a peace that came over me.
Perhaps it has partly to do with how rain makes us reflective. It makes us happy to be in our snug homes. Heavy rains impose a sort of self-reflection that is easy to escape when it is sunny all the time.
In fact, I have often thought that Californians could use a little more weather turbulence. We are outdoor people who rarely have reason to seek shelter inside. We love our sunshine and our beaches, and our parks. It seems everything is geared toward being on the move. Indeed, even earthquakes, send people out of their shaking abodes, not in.
Winds tend to keep us home, but jangles our nerves so much in the process that it makes just thinking difficult. Heavy rains though? That’s when we settle down long enough to do some serious thinking.
Being a Kansas girl, I endured nearly every type of weather growing up. We had thundershowers, blizzards, heat waves, and have course a good ol’ tornado every once in awhile. They were all forces that we accepted. It does no good to go out and shake your bony little fist at a tornado. It just laughs and picks up the nearest tree just for fun.
We learned to take shelter and wait. We had no choice and there was a strange peacefulness in that situation.
On winter days when it cost too much to heat the whole house, we stayed in one room reading or watching TV. During tornados we stayed together and mused aloud about the hay wagon that had just passed by the window.
During a thunderstorm or when the lines grew too heavy with winter ice, our electricity went out. It happened so often that we took it in stride. My mom got down the kerosene lantern from the sideboard, lit it, and placed it on the dining room table. It had been her mother’s lamp and when she touched it, her voice seemed softer than usual, and uncharacteristically warmly wistful.
I was usually already downstairs, but my older sisters, their bedrooms plunged into darkness, came out to sit with us. With no TV or radio available, we tried to read by the lamp, but usually ended up just talking, the circle of light gathering us all up within its glow. The turbulence, disorder and darkness outside contrasted sharply with the pool of calm, quiet, warm light inside.
The rain came and went last night. Though we wanted more, we had to settle for just this small amount. The next morning we plunged on with our lives, back out into the sun, living this fast-paced outward life.
We need more rain for our crops and for our water table, but we also need it for balance, for the enforced reflection and the inner peace it brings to us, and for the feeling of knowing our place in the scheme of the world.