“A Rainy Day I Will Never Forget”

Yesterday was 97 degrees, the hottest day of the year. I expected more of the same today: the National Weather Service had forecast a high of 91 with clear skies. But at 9:30 AM it began to rain.

It didn’t begin to sprinkle, it began to rain — what a Mosotho farmer would even allow to call rain — as in, I put trashcans under the roof downspouts to harvest runoff. I felt memories of Lesotho rush back.

We don’t get summer rain in southern California. Here it’s bone dry from May to October. Forever, however, any summer precipitation will bring my mind back to Lesotho and how welcome those afternoon showers were as they cooled off the summer heat.

Marine layer fog most mornings -- like this -- is as close as we usually get to rain in summer.
Marine layer fog most mornings — like this — is as close as we usually get to rain in summer.

I couldn’t resist celebrating this rain by taking my five-month old son out into it. “This is amazing,” I explained to him. “It never rains in the summer!” He licked my arm.

I put him down for a nap, went back into the rain, and a lightning bolt struck. I saw the white flash out of the corner of my eye and simultaneously heard an electrical buzz followed by the thunder crack. I crouched and covered my head, realizing the bolt had touched down only a few hundred yards away. Then my mind was really brought back to Lesotho.

I ran inside the house and watched the rest of the thunderstorm play out through the windows. In Lesotho, thunderstorms approach from the west; here, this thunderstorm had approached from the southeast, from the Sea of Cortez so to speak. I wrote the observation down in a notebook. I made a cup of coffee, heating water and pouring it over grounds through a tea strainer on top of a mug. It’s what I did in Ts’oeneng; it’s what I still want to do whenever rain comes down: write with a cup of coffee in hand.

My mood was so high. Rain eliciting that reaction in me surely comes from my experience with rain in Ts’oeneng, where I learned to think of it as a blessing.

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