Our theme for the month of June is “Top Ten.”
When it hasn’t rained since January, even the most absent citizen begins to notice. Crops droop haggardly, dust and heat reign the streets, worry is in higher supply than water. When rumors of rain reached me, I realized I could no longer passively note it as background noise. Now it was an event, worthy of pause and deserving of attention. My newfound attention coincided with days of continuous showers, days when I decided to pause and capture an “ordinary” event.
10 observations from over a week of paying attention to rain.
1. May 15, 2:30 p.m.: After weeks of dense, humid air overlapping with smoldering smoke, my body is raw at the first note of change. The foreboding darkness is a strange, new symbol of hope. Almost automatically, I go through an unlabeled storm routine, some habits more scientific than others. Harvesting fluttering sheets from the laundry line, unplugging every socket, and wondering again why I store matches and candles in dark corners. Newness encroaches.
2. May 15, 7:00 p.m.: Is there any medium that embodies truth as definitively as the crackle and kindling of a dark aubergine sky? Its anthem promises an exhilarating vindication for all decisive stances, for all splits with cowardice and avoidance.
3. May 17, 4:45 p.m.: The rain exposes the futility in infrastructure’s fight to defend the thin line between inside and outside. I have retreated from the battle, content to let geckos stake new territory on my bedroom walls and to marvel at the seemingly inefficient curving path of ant battalions. Stray cats strut above barbed wire.
4. May 18, 6:03 p.m.: I puzzle over why our memory associates rain with a depressing grey when all I see is warm golden evening light. In contrast with the fierce self-assuredness of the thunder and lightning, this subdued power saturates me until I am full of this moment.
5. May 20, 3:13 a.m.: I consider the birds. I increasingly sense that I am intruding on their orchestral performance, applauding before the final movement. Those in the know tell me the birds aren’t any louder now than in February, but could I have truly been that deaf to their chants every day? Now I recognize the partiers at 3 a.m., heedless of the storms, perhaps enjoying late-night bug-fruit tacos after karaoke. And there are the faithful that repeat the same praise refrain in the shower every afternoon. For the first time, I look into studying birds more intensely, resonating with the longing of Black wildlife ecologist, J. Drew Lanham, “[Birds] were going places that I couldn’t go. They were going places I wanted to go.”
6. May 21, 10:51 p.m.: We’ve reached what looks like the mid-season finale. The first rains were a hesitant debut. They caught my eye, but I didn’t fully dive in for fear of acid rains. Now the rhythm of tonight’s story has picked up with mature confidence, strong enough for tap dancing.
7. May 15, 18, and 22: If I listen beyond myself, I tune into a collective murmuring all around. The neighbors make their delight apparent with whoops and scampers to the roof. Innocent gurgles of laughter abound as play and relief collide.
8. May 15, 18, and 22: The sentiment persists online. No one is jaded at the delightful absurdity of an endless scroll of people posting fifteen-second videos of cascading rain. Smoke-smeared firefighters, weary from weeks of tackling forest fires, fall into postures of gratitude and the images ripple over and over again for the next twenty-four hours. No one needs to explain why this moment is important.
9. May 23, 7:26 a.m.: Hours after dawn, the earthy smell persists, skirting over skin and coating nose and mouth with mint and musk. Morning light’s shadows dance over gleaming plants that stood in defiance to witness the scent of satisfaction, of fulfillment.
10. May 26, 9:10 a.m.: If we were all free to only bask in and breathe in rain, I would have ended here. But as I rise from another evening downpour, there’s a competing scent of dissatisfaction in the air. An aroma that, like rain, is both inexplicable and yet instantly recognizable. A scent that harkens to moments of change and bites as harshly as any acid rain. Newness encroaches. Are you paying attention?
Comfort Sampong’s heart is sparked by fried plantains, tropical foliage and the stories of women thriving and creating a way out of no way. She graduated in 2018 with majors in economics and international development. Now she lives in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where she works on English communications for the Association for a More Just Society, a Honduran non-profit fighting for justice and peace.