>Remember how in elementary school and middle school (and, let’s just be honest, college) the first snow day of the winter would come like a long awaited and much celebrated friend returned from a long journey in parts unknown. The night before your big test the air grows cold and fresh and you smell it coming and you know: tomorrow’s going to be a snow day. And so you wait and try not to look at the window too often but can’t really help it. When it finally comes, that first snow, life slows and we would alternate between running around in the snow outside and coming in to thaw and drink cocoa. My family used to watch the entire set of Anne of Green Gables on days like that.
And so it is here. Sort of. Where I live the sand and bleached dirt stretches for miles all around, small scrubby bushes and trees dotting the horizon in every direction. So, as you can imagine, we do not get much snow. But each year, at the moment when the heat and dust have grown so strong that we wonder if water even exists in other parts of the world…it rains. And the whole world changes. We stop and smell the dust settling and the rain covering everything. The traffic stops and the people run for cover and then just stay where they end up.
In a desert society, seasons revolve around the state of the rain. It is either Rainy Season or it’s Dry Season. There are no others. Dry season is hot and, well, dry. Rainy season is hot and humid. (In fairness, there are also two lesser seasons entitled Hot and Cool season. But they would be more accurately described as Very Hot Season and Hot Season)
Rain is talked of and rumored for weeks before it arrives. I have sat in NGO meetings each week for the past month and heard of how it rained in the outskirts of this town a few days ago and in this neighboring village last week… “it’s coming” they murmur to each other with a mixture of delight and foreboding in their expressions.
And last night…it came.
We awoke in the morning to a delightfully strong breeze and as I went about my morning routine I felt the first sprinkles of what I was sure would be an enormous rain storm. It grew heavier but then stopped abrubtly. Sort of like those mornings you wake to a slight covering of snow but the sun comes out and you realize it’s not enough to cancel school. The sun came out and dried the ground and the day continued as normal, only hotter and more humid than I though possible.
But as the sun set, the clouds returned, this time with thunder and lightening. And suddenly it was raining. A lot. To reach any other part of the compound, you must walk outside…and I found myself intentionally running from one room to another on made- up errands just so I could feel the rain and wind and stomp through the puddles created by the cracks and uneven places in the courtyard concrete. I couldn’t help but notice the others doing the same, wide smiles on our face. The night passed pleasantly in marathon games of cards and doing “nothing,” comments passed around that it was a perfect rainday.
Tomorrow we will have to deal with the problems and issues that arise from the glorious cool rain falling in sheets all around us. Water will fill the streets and overflow the creek beds that have served as trash dumps for the past months of dry season. Diseases like cholera, malaria, and dysentery will begin springing up in place of May flowers and we will go back to work with an entirely new set of problems to solve.
But for now, we will enjoy the cool rain on our face, and fall asleep to the sound of it pattering on the tin roof of our house- content as fourth graders after a long day of snowmen and hot cocoa.