I swear, when rain is coming, I can taste it.
Growing up on the East Coast, where the ocean was never more than a couple of hours away and the humidity could cause a person to crank up their car’s air-conditioning to simply drive across a parking lot, moisture of all kinds was a way of life.
I remember rain lasting for hours. I remember always keeping a beach towel in my car, so if I drove somewhere to run, my sweat-soaked self wouldn’t traumatize the car too much on the drive home. I remember embarking on summertime marathon training runs so early on weekend mornings that the moon would still be gleaming.
I vaguely remember complaining about all of it.
New Mexico seems under a permanent drought. The magnitude of the drought just varies from month to month. By the end of July, the state is supposed to have gotten about four and a half inches of rain. This year so far, we’ve gotten about half an inch. And I’m feeling it.
People can chirp about the merits of “a dry heat” all they want, but it starts to get to you. It reminds me of a study I learned about in a Psychology class, in which certain people were placed in a room for a period of time in total darkness, and other people were placed in a room under constant bright light. The ones in the darkness were determined to be more psychologically sound at the end of the study.
Recently, however, in accordance with “monsoon season” [laugh!!] we’ve been getting a smattering of late-day rain showers, or at the very least, some respectable cloud cover. It’s glorious. The scent of rain has become one of my favorites. A couple of weekends ago, two days in a ROW boasted rain showers that lasted at least 10 minutes!! Trust me, it’s a big deal.
Both of those times I went out and just stood in the rain. My neighbors probably thought I was a couple shots short of a margarita, but whatever. This is what rain does to me now and I have accepted it. When the rain turned to tiny hail pellets, I tried to imagine the pellets as wee exfoliants, healthy and skin-invigorating…a delusion that I managed to sustain for about 15 seconds. My body unfortunately has gotten quite adept at catching on to attempted mental trickery over the years.
At work, where we have windows-a-plenty, it isn’t sunny days that make us yank the shades up, it’s the cloudy ones. Clouds aren’t gloomy in New Mexico– they’re a relief, Nature’s way of laying a cool washcloth on the back of your neck.
Running gets a lot more pleasant without the sun staring down, unblinkingly and unwaveringly, even if temperatures still flirt with triple digits. And I like that cloud cover putting a little moisture in the air, thank you. In these conditions, stepping outside doesn’t feel like stepping into a potter’s kiln. My skin looks and feels almost normal. And I can fling my windows open after work instead of striding straight for the air-conditioner’s “on” switch.
I’m not saying I pine for the saturated air of the Southeast, or for the sorta-fun-sorta-terrifying adrenaline rush of a feisty thunderstorm popping up in the middle of a run. But whatever this desert monsoon season can muster, I will happily take. And wherever you are, next time it rains, go stand out in it for a few minutes for me.