The Smell of Rain

The solitary rainy nights like tonight always lead me down memory lane. There is a scientist somewhere that will want to start telling me all about my olfactory whatchamadigit that is linked to my brain’s limbywhoozit system, and that’s why certain memories are always recalled when I smell rain. They’d be right, of course, but all I know is that I probably have more memories associated with the sound and smell of rain/water than I do for any other scent. Here are a few.

# 1

For anyone who has grown up or spent any decent amount of time in Texas it is hard to not remember the swelteringly humid late spring/early summer days. They say that everything in Texas is bigger (chuckles to self) and it’s true, especially when it comes to the thunderstorms. When I was still looking forward to having a double digit age, our yard was my whole world. Due to an exceptionally imaginative younger sister, it was transformed on a daily basis into fantastic worlds of wonder and mystery that we would explore until dinner time. On the days when the air was so heavy with moisture that you could cut it with a knife, we’d look up, with ringlets clinging to the nape of our necks, and scan the seemingly endless horizon for any hint of the rolling towers of grey and black that would bring blessed, if only momentary, relief. When the clouds were there we could sit on the porch or the trampoline or up in a tree and wait eagerly for the storm to break. We’d count the seconds between each lightening strike and distant crash of thunder as we swatted at mosquitoes and gnats that were the product of the previous storm. As the storm got closer everything would get quiet and the earth would hold it’s breath in preparation. Sometimes the whole world would turn a peachy color that made it all look like a dusty, washed out old photo. The temperature would drop 1 or 2 degrees, and then we could smell it. We could actually see the gray wall moving toward us beneath the thunderheads that seemed to threaten our very existence. Every once in a while we would watch our road turn back to black and see the color rush into the world on the other side of the distinct line of advancing rain. The rich smell of the life giving water rushed in and consumed us only minutes before the waves of rain arrived. Then, all at once, we were in OZ. The heat and the dust had vanished and all the colors were saturated and bright. The warm water would fill the ditches and there were puddles EVERYWHERE. We’d run around with umbrellas, or without, and ‘pretend’ to our hearts’ content. Sometimes, when it was a colder rain, we’d both sit under a huge umbrella and become runaway orphans (a particularly favorite theme) hiding from an EVIL headmistress. Storms usually blew through in an hour or less, and when they were gone we’d splash around for a little longer then run inside before the returning heat would make our wet clothes unbearable.

# 2

I LOVE the ocean. My family lived in Hawaii when I was a toddler, and I only have vague snippets of memory from that time. I wasn’t able to get back to see the Pacific until high school. I was a member of the school band, and we took trips every other year to compete in out of state invitationals. My freshman year we went to San Diego. The climate right after rain always reminds me of California’s cool night air, and the smell of the ocean a few miles away. I remember sneaking into other people’s rooms and staying up way too late, laughing and being young. I remember palm trees, and thinking that everything was so much greener than it was back home (It was.) I remember the dinner cruise in the bay and heartaching over some dumb boy. I remember the night we went to the beach. The sand was white and the boardwalk looked like it did in all the movies. We had an hour or two to kill before dinner, and we spent the time shopping for souvenirs that were overpriced and tacky. The sunset was golden and perfect, and my best friend and I sat on the beach and dared each other to get into the water. (Being late April, it was still pretty frigid.) I remember walking in the sand, listening to the surf, and thinking that the night would be perfect if I had a boy to share it with. Mostly I remember what it felt like to know that my potential was limitless, that I could do any and everything that I wanted to, all I had to do was reach out and take it.

#3

During the span of my life, I have had the opportunity to enjoy the company of good people on some pretty awesome porches during some fun storms. In most cases, I don’t even remember the porch. The best feeling in the world is the one that you get when you’re sitting with friends and/or family, watching the storm rage. The doors to the house may be thrown open, daring the wind and the rain to do their worst. All you see is the beauty of God’s creations, as a cool breeze filters through the house and lifts everyone’s spirits. All you know in that moment is friendship, love, laughter, and good times.

On nights like tonight I find myself most like the ‘Anne-girl’ than I am at any other time in my life. I’ll walk out onto the porch or balcony, step up to the railing, and fling my arms open wide and breathe in all the memories that make up my core. I let all the hope and energy of my present youth fill up my soul and give me the courage to create new memories for the now that is my future youth.

It’s cheesy… this I know. I am surprisingly unapologetic about it. These romantic moments of silliness are my little oasis… what’s the plural of oasis?

Yep, I looked it up online. It’s oases.

o·a·sis
noun
plural: o·a·ses
1. A fertile or green spot in a desert or wasteland, made so by the presence of water.
2. A situation or place preserved from surrounding unpleasantness; a refuge:

lol. Nice.

My refuge, made possible by the presence of water.

I like it.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

This blog link popped up on my facebook this morning. It reminded me of a talk given by Elder D. Todd Christoffersen in October last year. Below is the response that I sent. I shared some of the ideas that Elder Christoffersen presented. I believe that something as simple as changing the language we use with people can change our ability to respect them! I also know from personal experience that giving a person the gift of respect, whether they deserve it or not, has the potential to change them for good every single time.

I suffer from the same casualness with inappropriate and degrading labels, and I know that it would be difficult for me to go an entire day without saying, ‘That’s retarded.’ It would even take some effort to not refer to someone in a negative way, even as a joke. Prejudicial sarcasm has become okay because, ‘hey, I’m just joking.’ What is worse is that it has become okay to crack jokes at the expense of those we love.

A little while ago I was with a friend at a family event, and I heard her father call her nephew a looser. As a matter of fact, many of the adults cracked jokes at this young boy’s expense, and, while he laughed and made a few feeble jabs back, you could see the pain in his eyes. What hope does this boy have of reaching his potential if all he has heard his entire life is that he is worth nothing in the eyes of those who’s role it is to lift and encourage him?

Our willingness to dispose of our common decency has created a huge hole where chivalry and courtesy used to exist. It is no wonder then, that we now have to rely on lawyers and lawsuits to protect us from slander, harassment, and abuse. What laws will our children have to create to protect themselves from things that are now covered by what is left of our society’s decency and courtesy?

Would I be able to make a difference if I made a concentrated effort to speak with respect to and about every individual? I don’t know if it would change anyone but me, but that’s not a bad place to start.