When the rain comes…
Updated: Aug 22, 2022
When the pandemic restrictions began in the spring of 2020, I became overwhelmed with a desire to be walking outside. Devoid of the ability to gather with others, I found my companionship in the company of waves, in the conversations with birds on trails, and in the comfort of water bubbling over river stones.
But when summer passed and fall faded away, winter marched in with hard rains. A simple walk around the neighborhood required such preparation against the rain, wind, and cold that I became starved for the solace nature brought me.
Waiting for winter to give up its assault, my spirit hungered for release from the suffocating rain. And during this time, my attention was focused on the rose bush resting in a clay pot on our back deck. When the rain weakened and a semblance of warmth periodically appeared, I searched its thorny stalk as leaves appeared and spread.
Waiting for the bloom to reveal itself was a master class in patience. That bud lingered, teasing me with its promised beauty, revealing only a millimeter of change at a time. When it finally flirted with a skirt of pink, it was Claire de Lune expressed in color, and it made a distant memory of the seven months of constant rain.
At least it used to, until the anticipation of another onslaught of winter sent us here to the Southwest.
I am finding that here in this Sonoran Desert, the incessant rain, which once filled me with dread, now fills me with joyful anticipation.
Though most of the year this barren landscape wears forbidding skins that poke and prod, the monsoon rains transform the desert overnight into something soft and beautiful.
When the rains arrive with an army of thunderheads, the desert becomes the finale of the 1812 Overture. Like a Fourth of July celebration, color explodes overnight, sometimes within moments. No patience is required for the bloom to unfold here.
In fact, the rains soak the landscape into improbable beauty. A quail family skitters through a puddle after a downpour. An anthill mound pummeled in monsoon rain becomes a perfectly sculpted sandcastle. A barren landscape becomes a carpet of velvety green, and jackrabbits skitter through the bushes.
Now the rain beckons me outside to experience wonder, and perhaps that is why I have fallen in love with this desert place.
Sadly, monsoon season is coming to a close here, and I will mourn the loss of the towering thunderheads and the vagaries of the rain. The desert will lose its bloom, and the grasses will fade. The air will cool and dry, and perhaps, if lucky, decorate the landscape with a soft, frosty cover on some cold morning.
But until then, I will quietly cling to this unfolding explosion of desert color as passionately as I once did the unfolding rose.
It is not that patience is not needed here. It is just a new kind of waiting is needed…a waiting through the long dry season for the abundance of monsoon rains to explode on the parched land.
Perhaps it is why I have come to love this desert land. The desert’s rhythms seem to more closely resemble my own life’s journey… extended periods of barrenness and drought interrupted by short seasons of inexplicable beauty and joy.