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Remembered Rain

04 Jun
Remembered Rain

When I finally go upstairs in the morning, I can hear the rain pounding on the roof. Good, I think, we need the rain. It’s been much too dry this spring. Even though I prefer sunny days and dry heat, there is something I love about the rain. After breakfast I put on old clothes and go for a walk, barefoot in the coulees. I delight in the mud between my toes and the water on my face. My hands get muddy from holding my dirty flip flops. I look up to the crying sky and remember other rains.

 

I laugh, heart pounding, as our canoe crests another wave. Under my rain gear I’m mostly keeping dry, but I find myself grateful I don’t wear glasses anymore or I would be blind. As it is I trust Mark to steer us well, because it’s all I can do to make out the other canoes nearby. Were I in the back we would be hopelessly lost. I’ve enjoyed our canoe trip more than I thought I would, but now, fighting the waves, feeling the danger of falling, I am thrilled. It might not be a massive storm. It might not be too terribly dangerous. But for a beginner, it’s enough to set my heart racing. As we glide into a space that is sheltered from the wind, I shake my hood off and thank God for the storm.

——-

My feet and hands are cold and wet, but somehow my fingers are nimble enough to tie the ropes that hold the sweat lodge together. I think we must be an interesting sight, the men holding the branches fast as the women tie them, but we have to move quickly and I don’t have time to step back and look at us working there. When I am not busy, I watch the sweat lodge come together and wish it would stop raining.

I kneel on the floor near the opening of the tent, in line with the opening of the sweat lodge where most of our site is sitting. Those of us outside are spending time in prayer and wondering what exactly is going on inside. As time wears on and the flap of the lodge opens and closes periodically, I grow cold. It may be warm nearer the fire, but I don’t dare move even to grab my coat. Something pulls at me – I won’t leave my spot until everyone is out of that tent. Cold air blows on my back and I fancy that despite the shelter I can feel the rain.

When everyone has left the sweat lodge I step outside to make room for those in line for their food. Steam rises from their bodies and when they too come outside it seems like the rain hardly touches them. I understand the feeling – I never liked the idea of that sweat lodge – and for a moment I too feel like skittering away from them. But the moment passes, and I am cold and curious, and it doesn’t bother me to move closer.

——-

It’s drizzling like it does practically every day here. I’m getting used to the constant rain already, but I’m glad I live somewhere sunnier most of the time. Still, there are things to enjoy about rain. For instance, the rain means nobody is outside to see me when I spread my arms and run along the path from main hall to cabin, pretending to be an airplane. I delight in the speed and the raindrops on my face and I giggle to myself like a child, enjoying not being quite a grown up yet.

——-

It’s not really raining, exactly, when we wake up in a cloud.

——-

Just because we spend most of our day in caves, sheltered from the rain, doesn’t mean we don’t get wet. I’m glad for my raincoat and the set of coveralls that provide and extra layer of warmth even though I’m wet to the bone. Nobody seems to really care today that it’s raining and sometimes cold – we explore every possible route and race each other though the tunnels. We roam over the outside of the mountain and peer at slugs and lizards. Then, cold and wet but thrilled, we collapse in the vans and prepare for the last event of the day: the race to the showers.

——-

We’ve only been in Africa for a day, and we’re currently exploring a mall, where we can buy phones and call home and drink bubble tea and get used to the time zone. It was warm this morning but as I leave the bookstore I glance outside and see that it seems cooler. Soon enough, rain starts lashing at the windows. I can see the trees outside bending from the force of the wind. I sip my bubble tea and internally bemoan the fact that I’m experiencing my first African rainstorm from inside.

——-

The storm outside brings everyone to the doors. We gather underneath the sheltered parts of the courtyard and at first we just watch. I can’t remember who starts it, who first runs out and starts spinning, but I remember joining them. We grab hands and spin together, leaning out and trusting our connection. Laughter bubbles up inside and pours out of us as we turn and turn until someone calls us back. After, drenched, I play Émilie’s Song on the broken piano, just to know what it sounds like out of tune in a thunderstorm.

——-

We come back from our work in the storerooms dusty and tired, and the afternoon shower is just starting. I stay outside in my dirty clothes and let the rain fall on me.It doesn’t take much to convince others to come out. We take advantage of the uneven ground, jumping in the puddles and letting the splashes turn the dust on our legs into muddy tear tracks.

——-

It was a beautiful sunny morning as we hiked along the coastline, enjoying the views and anticipating the pizza. Now, the pizza has been consumed and we’re left to explore Coffee Bay. We get down to where the river meets the ocean just in time to get across dry, and instead of wandering too far, we sit on the rocky beach and watch the waves. And as we watch the rain rolls in again. Looking out on the ocean, seeing the wind drive the waves to greater heights, the drops on our heads don’t seem to matter.

——-

I’m near the front of the long line of students who want to enter Lesotho, so I have a while to wait once I get through. I’m not much good with pictures, so I only try a couple of times to get that perfect lightning shot. But I do stand with the others, looking through the fence at the hills where you can see that it’s storming. When we get back on the bus, I sit in the front and watch the countryside and little villages go by, waiting and hoping we’ll drive into the rain.

——-

Storms escalate quickly here. One minute we’re standing out behind the buildings, watching the storm come to us, and the next it’s too windy to hold our plates and everyone is being called under cover. The rain starts, torrential, and the wind rushes across the semi-enclosed area made by the buildings. The tent goes flying, a sheet of metal whips off the roof, almost taking off heads. We watch the wreckage while we eat, caught by the sheer power of the storm. Then, as quickly as it came, it has passed, and we can watch the lighting as it moves away from us, into the distance behind the hills.

——-

My stomach is full and I’m starting to get warm despite being outside in the rapidly cooling night. I curl up in my sleeping bag and pull it over my head, arranging myself carefully so that I’m protected from the water dripping from the roof. It takes a while to get comfortable on the rocky floor of the cave, but I’m tired and that helps. I fall asleep to the patter of raindrops and when I wake up in the morning to the fog lifting off the mountain, the sound is still there.

 

When I finally go upstairs in the morning, I can hear the rain pounding on the roof. Good, I think, we need the rain. It’s been much too dry this spring. Even though I prefer sunny days and dry heat, there is something I love about the rain. After breakfast I put on old clothes and go for a walk, barefoot in the coulees. I delight in the mud between my toes and the water on my face. My hands get muddy from holding my dirty flip flops. I look up to the crying sky and thank God for the rains.

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One response to “Remembered Rain

  1. Karen Sudom (@SpectrumES)

    June 5, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Thanks for the droplets of rain filled memories.

     

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