Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Rains Alive

Many years ago, in a different life lived, I had occasion to drive from Los Angeles to Death Valley, thinking it would take only a few spare hours. I was naive and young... and I hadn't counted on the weather gods' wrath. It rained... and rained... it poured sheets of rain. The sky remained an ominous grey the entire trip, 8 hours, 10, 12? I can't recall, but it was a day.

I was engaged then. I must have been about 19. Thankfully we never married. It would have been a mistake. But the two of us drove, in an old beaten up station wagon. We arrived well after dark, to discover that we could save a bundle by driving across the state border to Nevada, and spending the night there.

Those of you paying attention will note: it never rains in Death Valley! Ah... but it does, it does. Only... it rains but once or twice a year in Death Valley. And we got it all in that one day and night. As we all know from recent events, rain can be devastatingly destructive. But it is a purgative and nourishment like nothing else.

Where I live, it has rained nearly every day seemingly for the past two weeks. But, somehow, it is refreshing, rather than depressing. The skies are embracing the earth, kissing the plants and soil beneath, showering all us bipedal mortals.

There is a story about Alexander Hamilton, growing up in the West Indies (was it?). The story relates to why and how he came to America. He was sponsored by wealthy merchants (or bankers?), as I recall, at the behest of his minister. And why? Because of a letter he wrote, containing an essay on the force of nature which he observed in the strength of a storm. Rain can humble us all.

Here is a poem I wrote many years ago, recalling Death Valley from those years before:

The Rains Alive (8/6/91)

I love to walk in torrent rain
and watch the people run.
I love to talk in torrent rain
to myself or anyone.

I love the colors streetlights shine
against the grayish sky,
Where sovereign clouds direct our eyne
to view the heavens fly.

I love to taste the rainy air
and puff a misty sigh.
I love receiving zany stares
from sober passersby.

To me is rain a mirac sight,
mysterious and proud,
The drops that bend unbending light,
the clouds the sun enshroud.

A miracle, presented once,
allowed my thoughts to thrive:
I saw Death Valley rainy once;
I've seen the rains alive!

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