The Rainstorm That Ended Winter
It went like this: I don’t understand Iowa weather. In Utah, when it rains – and especially when it pours – the entire thing exists as a spectacle. And when the downpour ends, it’s most definitely over. Which meant that after the massive downpour that arrived with morning had spit its last drops, I assumed the sun above us meant the storm had passed. I told Grant and Spencer we would walk to pick the girls up from school.
A fourth of a mile later, and standing outside the classroom doors, thunder rumbled in the not so distant distance. I looked at my watch, gauging how long I had until the girls came out of school and I was free to usher my little ducklings back home. Time did not seem to be on my side. Iowa weather seemed ready to mock me.
Winter had been long. With a baby born in January, and a chill acknowledged by the entire nation, my first few months of the year had not been my favorite. Add to this a few of life’s hiccups and it is safe to say my mood had been solidly dressed in the gray department for several weeks. Day to day, I was fine. At my core, I felt unhappy. Growing up, I always referred to moments like these as “Montana moments.” You know, those moments where you want to run away to Montana and live on a ranch. Or to Australia. Or to anywhere not in the middle of nowhere with a negative infinity wind chill (obviously I didn’t really get what Montana was). Needless to say, Spring had been a long time coming, and I had not recovered from the dark.
After several checkings of my watch, the girls finally came out their doors – Ellie last of all. This girl always manages to be the last one out of class, busy as she is with some project or other. By the time I had her, tiptoes of water had begun to sprinkle our heads. I strapped Spencer in the stroller beside Sterling. We would need to be fast, and Spencer was anything but. I had come equipped with three umbrellas, two of which were child sized. Grant and Meg took hold of these while I opened the third over our double stroller. I hoped it would keep the rain off Spencer and baby Sterling. I was glad that at least the air and rain were warm. We began our walk as the sprinkles increased.
Once, thirteen years before, when I graduated from highschool, I had danced in the rain. My friends and I were on a summer trip to Vernal – getaway of the rich and famous – and while they all stayed inside and watched “Sixteen Candles” I went outside and twirled in a middle-sized rainstorm. At the time, it seemed like it should be more meaningful than it was. Like it would look good in a movie with a soundtrack running alongside it to prop it up, but in real life it just felt soggy and cold. And meanwhile, I couldn’t think of very good choreography. The dancing was flat, as was the rain.
Then, ten years before, there was a time I jumped in puddles with a group of friends from work. I meant to impress a fellow coworker with my carefree, funloving ways. I remember my shoes being slick, and him laughing the way I meant him to. I remember the skirt I wore, and the hem being damp. He married me, and he remembered the puddles. So there is that.
Nine years ago, I worked in the drive-through of a quiet bank that often had no more than five customers a day. From there I watched the Las Vegas monsoons of summer race through the empty parking lot. They were the highlight of my experience, and yet I wouldn’t have dreamed of stepping outside in those crazy storms.
And now, here I was, walking with five children young children through a storm just as massive as any of those. Beside me, Ellie smiled excitedly, telling me how finally we seemed to have found an adventure. She held the largest umbrella over her two younger brothers while I pushed our way up and down the hills that would take us back home. Meg walked near us, opening and shutting her umbrella, alternating between peals of laughter and shrieks of fear. Meanwhile, Grant held his umbrella tightly, crying with the sky.
And the rain kept coming down.
To describe the rain, it must be said that I’ve never walked through such a storm. At its fullest I found I could not open my eyes for the million of drops coming from the sky. Water ran down our bodies and the trees and then sped along the sidewalk, flooding our shoes and ankles. Like walking through sheets and sheets of waterfalls, our breath was caught time and time again. The children pressed onward, not knowing what else to do than listen to the crazy Momma who had brought them into this mess. Step after step, we worked toward home.
When we finally did arrive, there had been so much water that each of us had to change every stitch of our clothing. (Except Spencer and Sterling, who only had wet bottoms where the water had kicked up beneath the stroller.) The kitchen floor where we entered would need to be mopped up from all the moisture we brought in. The makeup I’d worn that day had not only run, but also disappeared. My hair hung in a sopping rope down my back. The children, safe beneath a solid roof, giggled and smiled at what they’d gone through.
And so did I. Because who needed a rainstorm to get herself back from that awful Winter? I did. A rainstorm that pummeled and drenched. That soaked and sopped. That cleaned and washed away. That made new.
Thank goodness for rain.