November. With it, the fall colors. The beauty of autumn, window displays twinkling tempting holiday fare. And, we hope, some much-needed rain and snow for us here in Southern Oregon and our California neighbors to the south.
I had the good fortune to live in the beauty of northern Arizona. I became aware of how even a few drops falling from a bright, cloudless sky can bring relief — a sense of one of our most basic needs being fulfilled. I read once that photographs and paintings most likely to be selected by people as their “favorites” in random surveys always include some form of water, even if only droplets on the petals of a rose.
I remember sitting in my car one day, waiting near the front of a Flagstaff grocery store. The weather had been dry for quite some time, and the snowfall that year sparse (people often forget that Flagstaff is not Phoenix, and has an average snowfall of roughly 100” per year). Clouds gathered overhead, but the forecast did not call for rain. The thunderheads looked more like a tease than the real thing. Or maybe they were going to grace another side of the mountain today, but not us.
Suddenly, there was an enormous clap in the sky. Within minutes, the first fat drops of water splattered against the windshield. In seconds, it came down, fast and furious; just pouring straight down from the sky. I watched, snug in my car, as people scurried in all directions across the parking lot. One man covered his head with a newspaper; a woman raised her jacket over her head. Both frowned, shaking off the wet, struggling to get in their cars as quickly as they could.
Then I saw a man walk out of the store, calmly, slowly. He was a beautiful man. Tall and slender, dressed in an ironed, white shirt tucked into worn, trim Levis, a Western belt with large buckle, cowboy boots. He wore a chunky, silver and turquoise bracelet on his wrist. His long, black hair hung down his back. Navajo, I was sure. And with such elegance, he stopped in his tracks and stood in the downpour, lifting his angular, handsome face to the sky, greeting the rain as the blessing it was. After a moment, with no speed in his step at all, he walked on — drenched — across the parking lot.
It struck me how often we look at something as an annoyance or an irritant, when we can just as simply look at it in another way. Is shaking off the rain such a terrible thing? He took that precious moment to feel it, to understand what this thunderstorm meant to his reality, to the land that was so parched, so in need of a drink. While others ran from it, he blended with the rain and embraced it.
I can still see that exact image in my mind of him turning his face toward the sky. When it rains now, I do that, too. To say a prayer of thanks for the awareness of what the rain feels like on my face.
Nothing more. Just that.
Award-winning author, TV presenter and world traveler Susanne Severeid is an Ashland resident who enjoys making time for the important things in life — including mocha. Read more of her columns at www.dailytidings.com/mocha-musings. For more, go to www.susannesevereid.com. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.