Friday, October 3, 2008

Rain, joyous rain!

It rained today.

If you live anywhere east of the Rockies, this probably means nothing to you. But we haven't had anything more than spit from the sky here since March 15. That's 202 days.

If you've always lived in a place where rain is a year-round occurrence - except when it's snowing - you have no idea what it's like, the first rain after 202 days of dryness.

Let me tell you, it smells sweet.

When I lived in Virginia, rain in the warm months just meant things would smell a bit moldier than they did when it rained two days ago.

Here, summer smells like a spice cabinet as native grasses dry up and their essences, no longer clouded by water and chlorophyll, come into full bloom.

And the first time rain hits those grasses? It's like what happens when you put those spices in a frying pan coated with hot oil. It's like the first drag off a cigarette. It's like losing your virginity. It is amazing, and oh so fleeting. You get to inhale this aroma once each year, and that's it.

My friend Sarah and I went on a pilgrimage to Cabela's in Reno today - a story I'll get to tomorrow (and there's much to tell). The trip back home across Donner Summit was drenched with rain. By the time I brought Sarah back to her house northwest of Sacramento, precipitation had slowed to a spit. When I headed back to my house east of Sacramento, I was able to roll the car windows down and inhale that first-rain-of-the-season smell in firehose blasts all the way home.

For me, rain means ducks. Cold and wind and storms and ducks and waders and jackets and calling and shots and misses and hits and Starbucks or Burger King on the way home to fill my belly with something warm and plucking, plucking, plucking endless plucking and where's that Maker's Mark?

Just two weeks to go until the season opens.

But as much as I love duck hunting - and believe me, I love it to unseemly excess - rain means even more than that. For the rest of the country, this is the time of year you go dormant. For us here, it is a break from the scorching sun, the time when our grasses grow green and lush. It is the ultimate contradiction: rejuvenation, at the darkest time of year.

And for me, it is the time my spirits soar, as if I've been hibernating through the summer. For me, life begins now.

© Holly A. Heyser 2008


The Suburban Bushwacker said...

If you were needing some rain you should have said so, i've had plenty, all erhm 'summer'.

Josh said...

Great post, Cazadora! It's tough to convey that sense to folks who don't know it. I usually describe our's as a dual climate, desert in the summer and purnt near BC rainforest during the winter. Blue Canyon, East of Sacramento into the Sierras, gets over twice the precipitation of Seattle, it just gets it in five months.

Live to Hunt.... said...

And it wasn't just any old rain, it was a ducky storm with good wind and large punky clouds. I could see the Sprig piling into the decoys in my mind... Oh it's so close!

NorCal Cazadora said...

Yeah, I was a bit giddy myself.

Bushwhacker, send it on over. We'll take all we can get...

Brandon Darnell said...

I love the rain, and we need it and all, but this rain kept me from getting my free flight in an open-cockpit biplane.


SimplyOutdoors said...

We could've loaned you some rain as well. I think we got 9 inches in 2 days one weekend. It was incredible.

I do love the smell right after a rain though. It is awesome.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine not having rain on a regular basis. We get rain, well except when it snows, fairly regularly all year. Some years are a bit drier than others, but we usually get enough rain to keep everything green.

I love the way you described the first rain though. Very poetic.