Sharon Randall: Praying for rain
Maybe, when you read this, it will be raining in California. That is what we’re praying for — a good, soaking rain to put an end to what has been months of death and devastation from fire.
The irony is that while Californians are praying for rain, our neighbors in the South and East, who’ve lost homes and loved ones in recent months to hurricanes and flooding, are praying for a dry spell.
Rain can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how much you get. Wouldn’t it be great if those who have too much of something — like rain or wealth or responsibilities —could share it with those who don’t have enough? I’m not the first to ask that. I hope I won’t be the last.
Growing up in the Carolinas, I loved watching storms roll in over the mountains. Once, when I was 8, I hid beneath a giant cedar while lightning crashed and rain turned the creek into a torrent and my grandmother stood on the porch frantically calling my name. I didn’t answer. I didn’t want it to end.
In college, most of my classmates used umbrellas in the rain. Not me. I ran to class laughing, bareheaded and barefoot, carrying my shoes.
As a young mother, I didn’t get everything right. Far from it. But on rainy days, I’d bundle the kids up in raincoats and rubber boots and we’d go out stomping puddles. Then we’d come home to dry off, light a fire and read our favorite books. I don’t know if they remember it. But I do.
One of my favorite rain memories is this: We were camping in Yosemite National Park. The kids were playing in the river with their dad and I was reading on the bank when thunder began to rumble. While my husband took the kids to the campsite to dry off, I stayed behind to gather towels and trash. Then something made me stop and look up at Yosemite Falls. That summer was so dry the falls were barely a trickle.
But suddenly, as the storm began dumping rain on the mountain, the falls began to gush like a giant firehose, tumbling over the cliffs, down the granite face, falling some 2,000 feet into the river.
I wish you could’ve seen it.
I also remember the summer we were forced to evacuate from Yosemite as wildfires threatened to close all the park’s exits. We drove out single-file in a caravan with hundreds of other campers, meeting along the road dozens of firetrucks loaded with young men who were headed to the park to fight the blaze.
The wettest winter I recall was when my first husband died of cancer. Rain fell for days, a gift for a parched soul. I watched the hills turn green. And slowly I remembered I was still alive.
Years later, I remarried and moved with my new husband to Las Vegas, where the usual daily forecast is “abundant sunshine.”
Average annual rainfall in Vegas is about 4 inches. You can get most of it in a cloud burst. Also, there’s virga — rain that’s visible as it falls from clouds but evaporates before it hits ground. I saw a lot of virga. Not a lot of rain. But scarcity made it seem more precious. I love the smell of rain anywhere, especially when it’s falling on the desert.
It’s been almost six months since we moved back to the coast of California, and to the steady news of wildfires burning up and down the state.
Now, for the first time since we’ve been back, hallelujah! There’s rain in the forecast. Maybe even enough to put out the fires and clear the air of smoke. It could change, of course. It often does. But I’m beyond happy at the possibility.
Yes, we are praying for rain in California. If it misses us this time, we’ll keep praying. Maybe you will pray with us?
Rain will come soon. The hills will turn green. And we will remember that we’re still alive.
Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.