Last night we heard it, the first rain of the season, huge drops splattering on the roof. It rained until morning, then cleared overhead and the room filled with sunshine. When I opened the window, the smell of damp earth rushed in. All morning, banks of cumulus clouds gathered over the East Bay hills, and when I went out, I saw storm clouds to the west. Now the wind is up, gray clouds are moving in from the southwest, and birds are flying restlessly back and forth across the sky. More rain coming.
In a climate like California’s, where the rain tapers off in May and doesn’t return until late October, we wait for that first rain. The fields get dryer and dryer, reservoir levels drop, wildfires rage in the wilderness, a fine dust settles on bare floors and counters, and then…it’s all washed clean and brilliant. And for an extra bonus today, a soft rainbow.
I’m glad about that rainbow, because I’ve been in a horrible mood ever since I went out. All I did was meet a friend for coffee and stop for 10 minutes at a grocery store, and by the time I got home I was rigid with pain. I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS! Today, for the first time in a long while, I thought seriously about drinking. Not so seriously that I went out and bought some wine, or even made a plan to, but it looked like a pretty good idea for 10 or 15 minutes. And then I did that inventory I talked about yesterday, got all my fears and catastrophizing down on paper, wailed and raged at the unfairness of it all, and meditated for half an hour. The pain was still there when I finished, and though I wasn’t exactly bouncing off the walls in joy, I decided I could handle it. Then I ate some chocolate and saw a rainbow.
She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleam’d upon my sight;
A lovely apparition, sent
To be a moment’s ornament.
The moments don’t last, neither delight nor sorrow. Feelings pass. But so does life, the moments ticking by one after another. It makes no sense to try and escape them when we have so few. The ones behind me stretch a lot further than the ones ahead. In my sane times, I’m not eager to let them pass by unmarked. My mother used to recite a poem by A.E. Housman that I liked as a child for the blooming cherry trees and like now for the cherishing of the moments:
LOVELIEST OF TREES, THE CHERRY NOW
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.