Real Stormy Weather

 I woke up about 2am this morning to the roar of the pounding rain.

How dare it?

Doesn't it know that I calculate my hours of probable sleep each night when I go to bed and then estimate my hours of actual sleep when I wake up each early morning? If only it had come sooner and more gently, lolling me to sleep - I love that - instead of rousing me dramatically from Dreamland.

I couldn't fall back asleep. My husband couldn't either. The rain thought it was special in this desert climate, so it announced its vigor with awesome displays of lightning and crashing cascades of thunder and the incessant drum beat of its descent. The wind occasionally whipped and moaned through the rain but could not make head or tail against a continuous leaden downpour.

And I resigned myself to losing sleep for this special visitor. Until I finally pittered out.

I didn't imagine in the wee hours that the rain's power would continue into morning. My husband was up nice and early to try to make his own headway against it. I got up and thought, well, I'll write then, and my son Danny, daughter Ana and I migrated from window to window to stare in unabashed wonder at the new, unusual swimming pool in our backyard, the small creek in the street, and the pond between the eucalyptus trees. Where were the ducks?

We're used to microbursts this time of year that wreak havoc on trees and cars with their short but fierce migration across the valley, but this has not ended yet. The rain is gentler now; the ground is beginning to absorb its officious offering, a new record in Phoenix. It has snatched whole swaths of highway and turned them into canals dotted with submerged vehicles. Five mighty inches it has dumped in our part of town, and it's not done yet. My kids have been given a day off of school and my husband thwarted twice in his honest desire to get to work. The first time I saw him drive down the street I said a prayer when he turned into the flood at the corner, tires churning water. Two minutes later he was back at our door.

For once we weren't irritated by the "Monsoon" brouhaha of the news shows. Today they were exciting. It wasn't just a day when they showed a big fallen tree in a nice yard or had a reporter downtown stopping passersby to ask how they felt about this "incredible" half hour storm. No, today was truly incredible, and they had a weather man warning everyone to just stay home; it wasn't worth it, and a poor reporter out by Interstate 10, interviewing people who had swam out of their vehicles. The camera man showed a DPS truck that almost hit several stranded cars as it skidded toward the flood of a major highway, trying to find an island of sure foundation in the storm.

The kids pulled on raincoats after we tired of the coverage. In Phoenix, yes. I can't remember the last time they wore such strange garments. These particular raincoats were purchased by their papa several months ago; he couldn't resist them, discounted as they were at two bucks apiece. He brought them home, and I picked them out of the bag in irritation thinking, What on earth will we ever do with these? Really?

But this morning they were at last appropriate as my kids ran through our lake of a yard, jumped in the deeper parts, threw balls like skipping stones and splashed through on their bikes, pretending they were cars on the freeway. Today is a real treat for them.

And at last, as I've been writing this, the rain has stopped. But it need not fear. We won't forget this visit too soon, the pleasant and far-from-pleasant memories it made for us desert-dwellers. Our poor heat-burdened plants and trees will relish its gifts for weeks to come.



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