Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Walking in the Rain

    I harp on about rain as if it were the only song I know. It permeates my writing, my blogs and my thoughts like some long-lost lover forever haunting over each horizon. Its maddening and obsessive at times, the anticipation and the expectation that comes with particularly shaped clouds on particularly ominous afternoons. In this place, in this life I am living, the rains are not just passing storm systems or blips on the radar, they are baptisms and blessings that literally control the pace of the world around me--ushering farmers to and from the field, turning leaves upside down in quiet reverence, being precluded by winds that make the trees dance and sing.

    They had been calling for thunderstorms this whole week and each time the heat of midday peaked unbearably under a lingering-cloudy threat only to blow over into nothing. More sun. More parched earth. More sweaty nights.

    Today, finally it came and in no small way. I was restless sleeping, knowing it would be here soon. I woke several times just to sit outside and listen to the winds churning. Around 2 am, the sky opened up. Thunder and lightning of all shapes and sizes, with moderate to furious temperaments. I couldn’t have been happier. It continued all morning, on and off at points. Eventually, I decided I just needed to go out and walk around in it. So I made up a bullshit excuse to myself to walk 10 kilometers to the local pueblo just so I had a reason to be out there. I would cuddle up with a cup of coffee later this evening, but I wanted to earn it first.

    Walking to pueblo is a long, hot ordeal during the summer. During the rain, it is a messy labyrinth of puddles and streams, requiring keen knowledge of what kind of textured mud is safest or sturdiest or least likely to swallow up your whole leg. It was a glorious walk, just like I thought. Within 15 minutes, I was soaked through, the winds whipping the rain horizontally and relentlessly into my face and under my coat. There were very few people on the road other than me. The locals are smarter than this. Still for me, it was a perfect afternoon stroll.
    I have said this before--Paraguay is not a particularly beautiful country. There is beauty here, of course, but it has to be sought out. It is a different kind of landscape that requires a different kind of appreciation. Unlike towering mountains or pristine coastlines, the land itself is does not contain the beauty a seeking eye would hope to find. But if you look closely, if you are quiet enough, patient enough, you realize that Paraguay is not the art, it is the canvas upon which the artists draw. The sun and the sky and the wind, each carefully cast their lines across this flat, empty space. It is a collaborative effort and some of the artists work faster than others--the weather for instance, at a feverish pace. Still others, like the geology or the topography, produce their art glacially.
    That is what I saw today on my walk. Like some sort of impressionist painting, muddled in its clarity by millions of descending droplets. You need to stare for a few minutes in order to realize what it is you are even staring at. And then there it is, all before you. Not a breathtaking or earth-shattering type of beauty, but a subtle and delicate type, an aching beauty that weighs upon your shoulders and makes you homesick. In reality, it was just a mash of colors--green pasture, red clay dirt-- just a flat wetness interrupted by trees and cows and a shack here and there. But whatever it was, it had its way with my heart.
    Its a confusing feeling, homesickness for a place that is not your home. I guess when you have so radically altered that notion of “home” to begin with, its not really places you are sick for anyway, it is people and moments and smells and feelings. When your home as a concrete place ceases to exist, you can feel that tug of nostalgia anywhere at anytime in anyplace, its just totally unclear in which direction its pulling you.
    I got home a few hours later, changed out of my wet clothes, made a cup of coffee and some fresh-baked bread. I am warm inside now and I feel much better for having made myself walk. I love the rain but I prefer it when I have someone to share it with.

From Paraguay,
little hupo

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mario,

    When I was a young girl I remember many an evening sitting on the front stoop with my family watching the sky. My Father could predict the weather for the next several days from watching the wind, the moon, and animal habits. He used to tell me some of the things he looked for but I remember being fascinated with his predictions from his observations. Maybe I just so loved my Daddy and believed his every word. Personally, I always loved thunderstorms, the newness that a storm brings clearing the air so we can breathe better.
    Love Mommy