Rain! (and an update)

A sheen of moisture on the paving stoves of my bedroom patio before dusk fell.

It’s raining tonight, a fall of small droplets visible in the lights of the parking lot across the way. The rain is so gentle we’ve probably not received enough to measure. Still, the air is heavy, warm and wet, redolent of the earthy fragrances of life awakening.

If you live somewhere rain is a regular occurrence or where the air is normally moist enough to cause hair to frizz, my excitement at this very small amount of moisture may not make sense. But here in the bone-dry high desert, where we ended last year with under 7 inches of total precipitation, any moisture is a big deal.

It’s been so dry here that when the wind blows, the air fills with an eerie tan haze of blowing soil. So dry that trees are dying, the creek that runs past my place hasn’t run since last July, and the prospect of another summer of huge and destructive forest fires seems all too real.

Clouds lower over town as the rain began. You can see fresh snow on the slopes above.

Tonight’s rain isn’t enough to make a real difference–except to our parched spirits. When I walked over to my neighbor’s house at dusk, I could hear voices from porches of the houses I passed, as people came outside to revel in the feeling of wet, so rare in this years-long  drought.

It will make a difference to our popular local ski area, Monarch, which relies on the fluffy stuff that falls from the sky, not grainy man-made “snow” blown out of giant cannons. It’s snowing up there now at 10,000 feet elevation and the forecast predicts the ski area could get as much as a foot of new snow over the next few days.

That snow is our moisture savings account, the water-bank that supplies streams and rivers, which need substantial deposits indeed if they are to revive this spring and hold through summer and fall. Whether we’ll get enough to build up the scanty snow pack isn’t clear. But each hour of moisture feels good, moistening the dust-dry landscape and we who live here.

Rain puddling on the row cover protecting the strawberry plants from nighttime temperatures that normally dip into the single digits this time of year.

Rain is not normal here in late January, when the temperature is usually far below freezing at night, and creeps up into the 40s during the day. But nothing is usual about our weather anymore, and we’ll take whatever moisture we get.

When I went outside a few minutes ago to fetch one last armful of wood for the stove in the living room, I turned my head upward to feel the mist of moisture on my skin. Then I said softly out loud, “Rain and snow on, heavy-bellied clouds! Thank you for your gift.”


The update: I’ve been absorbed in writing my new memoir, Bless the Birds. Working on this book is about as fun as pressing on a deep bruise, but the story is so beautiful, I press on anyway. (Yes, that pun was intentional.)

Cranes on the ground, dancing and preening, and in the air over the San Luis Valley with the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo Range in the background.

I’m also busy organizing my first Write & Retreat workshop, scheduled for the first weekend of spring, March 21-24, at Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa in Colorado’s wild San Luis Valley. I have always wanted to teach a writing workshop at the time thousands of sandhill cranes arrive to dance and call, renewing their pair bonds before migrating farther north to nest. My plan is for an inspiring and restorative “time-out” to write, soak, read and sit quietly, to share in the miracle of cranes and spring. (There are two spaces left in the workshop.)

I’ve finished the trim around eight windows and one side of five door openings, which may sound like a lot, but it’s not even half of the trim project. After which comes approximately 700 miles of baseboard and then finishing the master bath. Gulp. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, but I am lucky to have painting and staining help from my neighbor, Bev, and the patient tutelage of my ace-building & renovating friends, Maggie and Tony.

So onward, I go, reveling in the gifts of rain, writing, power tools and life….