So it rained like hell last night at the ranch. After a sweltering hot and humid day, the deep, dark clouds began to roll in over the horizon in the evening and we all scrambled to fulfill our outdoor plans for the night before closing the doors and pressing our foreheads to the glass to see what the storm had in store for us.
And what it had in store, it turned out, was like nothing I have seen in August around here. In fact, I failed to believe the blue clouds and flashes of threatening lightning until I found myself out in the middle of the pink road, turning the power walk with my mother (who I convinced not to worry, it’s not going to rain) into a power run as the wind pushed the rain closer and closer to our backs. Even when my dad came cruising over the hill with the 4-wheeler to rescue his maiden in distress, I refused his offer for a ride home and continued my trek to outrun the storm.
I guess I was finally convinced when I was a quarter mile from our little house and I was soaked, literally, to the bone. My socks were sloshing in my shoes, my clothes were sticking to my skin and the mascara I applied for a day of work in town was running down my cheeks.
I opened my arms to the sky, turned my head up and stuck my tongue out to taste it. Alright, alright, it’s raining, it’s pouring, in August!
And it was glorious.
So I walked a little slower to let it soak in my skin and wash out the stink and sweat and stress of the day and it wasn’t until I turned the last corner into the yard that concerned Prince Charming came up the road only to find his lovely wife looking like a mouse who had been swimming in a stock tank. He was coming to my rescue, but just a little late (in Scofield tradition)
But I was just fine–just fine indeed.
However, now that I am thinking of it, maybe I was a little too fine. A little too thrilled about the turn of events in the weather.
A little insane, perhaps.
I have heard stories and songs about this type of behavior happening to people after a drought–a long hot summer. They pray for rain, for a drop from the sky to relieve them of the dust and despair. So when God is finished with his long, luxurious bath, the heavens finally open up and He, always a conservationist, throws His water out to the most deserving of sinners. And they all rejoice with dances, and parties, whoops and hollars up into the sky.
They go crazy.
Just like me last night.
It could have been the kinetic energy swirling around in the air from the lighting show, making my hair stand on end, or the fact I had spent my first full day of work in town, or it could have just been the utter amazement we had at the amount of water gushing from the sky and down our roads, in our coulees and road ditches and collecting in rivers and deep puddles in the once dry, dusty and crusty areas of the place. Or maybe there was no explanation at all…
But something in me woke up. After the heavy rain had passed, (or so we thought) already dressed for bed and ready to settle in for the night, husband called to me from the front porch to “get my shoes on and come out here.” So I slipped on my flip-flops, stood out on the front porch with Prince Charming and listened as the water rushed and gushed in small rivers through every crevice of our surroundings.
We took a couple steps off the porch together, trying, at first, to avoid the gigantic puddle in our front yard and to keep out of the deep mud. We followed the sound of the rushing rainwater and whooped in amazement at every newly formed stream and waterfall falling off of the cliffs and toward the barnyard. We followed the stream down to the horse corral where we discovered a river had formed, racing its way to the nearby creek bed.
Well, I had to see how deep it was, so I tentatively stuck one foot in. The other quickly followed and pretty soon husband and I were splashing and frolicking nearly knee deep in a river that had spontaneously appeared before us.
It was refreshing and freeing and magical and romantic and adventurous….
I stopped dead in my tracks, turned to husband and looked him square in the eyes.
“Let’s go slide down the gumbo hill.”
“Yes, we have to! It’s right there.”
The rainwater had completely washed away any inhibitions and returned me to my youthful, innocent and completely naive state.
I bent my knees and made fists, bouncing up and down with sheer delight.
“I really, really, really want to!”
Husband paused for a second, as if to make sure I was still the girl he married, turned around and made a break for the nearest butte, which was sticking out like a big, daunting, beautiful wart on the landscape outside the fence.
I followed happily, jumping, over the rocks, slipping on the slick mud, crawling on my hands and knees, clawing at the soaked earth and throwing off my shoes and jacket.
See, this is an activity that we used to partake in as kids. After a big storm we would venture out to the nearest gumbo hill and take turns sliding down on our butts, making mud pies and slinging the precious, slimy concoction at one another.
And quickly, for those of you who haven’t experienced what we call “gumbo” I’ll give you an idea of what we are dealing with here. This form of gray dirt, also known as clay, covers the buttes around this area. In the hot summer months, the clay forms hard crusts on the hills. The dirt isn’t very accommodating to much vegetation, so the tops of most hills look like a bald man’s head, but the vegetation it does support is rough and prickly and dry and hearty.
But when it rains, the clay buttes turn to a sloppy, slippery, sticky heaven. Anyone who ventures out into the landscape during or after a rainstorm will find themselves with half of the terrain stuck to the bottom of their boots. And the only way to get anywhere in that situation is to slide it out…
Which is exactly what we did.
In the dark after the storm, in my short shorts and pajama top, I found myself having scrambled to the top of the nearest, tallest butte, standing hand and hand with my husband in what was now pouring rain, looking down on what I was sure to be pure joy– just as I remembered it as a child.
It turns out what I did not remember was all of the jagged rocks that make their homes on the surface of the butte, protecting the smooth clay underneath. The cactuses also seemed to slip my mind, as did the sharp grasses waiting for me at the bottom.
See the thing about making the same spontaneous, reckless and adventurous decisions as an adult as you did in your youth is that, as a child, you no doubt had some voice of reason back at the house telling you about said dangers, how you might be injured or possibly die from the decision and telling you to play on the smaller hill and wear pants, at least.
But as an adult, your memory serves your agenda and you are bigger…so you choose the bigger hill….and you don’t wear pants.
So down husband went, off the cliff and into the dark, surfing on his man sandals, (or what I refer to as man-dals) arms out to balance his weight, catching air, spinning around, gaining speed rapidly and landing a triple axel in a puddle at the bottom.
I clutched my hands to my chest at the top, waiting to hear a sign of life, a cry, a scream, a wail of agony…anything?
“Woooo Hooooooo! Hahahahahaha!”
The thrilling sound bounced off of each hill and made its way up to me through the dark sheets of rain.
All is well. Pure joy. It must have been as fun as I recalled.
I took my first step toward adventure.
My foot slid down. Unsteady, it broke away from the other leg, which was planted firmly on the ground above.
I was in the splits (and I haven’t stretched for this) but only for a moment. My planted leg un-planted and sent me swirling sideways toward the ravine that joined our butte together with his neighbor.
I wanted to start out in control. I wanted to take husband’s already plowed trail.
I mustered the strength to correct my path and squatted down on my feet, taking a cue form husband’s demonstration. You know, like surfing or wakeboarding or snow boarding…all the things I suck at.
Why would this be any different?
I slid for .5 seconds this way and quickly fall to my butt, where my shorty-shorts, along with my granny panties, promptly make their way up my crack as I gain speed, now on my bare ass, down an uncharted track of grass and rocks and cactus, cutting out a nice, wide swath with my cheeks.
My squeals of delight quickly turned to screams of agony and I put my arms out to try to slow myself as I hit the patch of vegetation along the bottom of the butte at speeds of what I am guessing to be at least 25 mph. Now my hands are ripping through the tall grass and cactus as the skin of my precious, white tush is being torn to shreds by the crust of God’s green earth.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I slid to a stop at Prince Charming’s feet.
I looked up from the bloody, mangled, muddy heap that was my body. Legs sprawled, arms tangled–I took a moment.
Am I dead?
My throbbing ass cheeks indicated probably no.
And so did the hysterical laughter coming from deep within my belly and out my mouth and up to the face of the beautiful swamp man leaning over me.
He reached out his shredded, muddy hand and hoisted his pajama clad, soggy, bloody and whimpering wife to her feet. Wounded, winded, shocked and completely blissed out, I told him I didn’t’ remember the adventure hurting that much when I was 10.
And then I remembered the pants.
Yes, it rained like hell last night and I wish you were here to see the grass glisten, the trees drip, the ravines that were cut through our roads…and to grab my ointment. Because the girl who went to bed as a rain soaked ten year old woke up this morning as an adult. And she isn’t moving too fast today.
Ooof, and there aren’t enough band-aids in the world….