I closed my eyes and splashed warm water on my face, breathing in the subtle scent of honey as I washed away the dust and busyness of the day. Several hours in the small kitchen cooking pancakes, blending a smoothie, assembling supper in the crock pot, and scrambling a big lunch together in between a trip to the bustling Farmers’ Market and executing an afternoon excursion had stolen every last bit of energy I had left. I simply wanted to curl up in bed and decompress.
My ears picked up a familiar pattering outside the window.
Probably just my imagination.
I splashed my face one last time luxuriating in a soft towel before stepping across the bathroom to the window.
My ears were not playing tricks on me.
A familiar sound for me, but a displaced sound in this dry California valley: the soft pattering of raindrops!
We’d watched thin clouds float in all day, faintly gray and hinting of hope, though nowhere near as promising as the monster thunderheads that pile up at home before a spring storm. I was skeptical, especially when the forecast only predicted a forty percent chance of falling water.
My two oldest children were still awake, waiting for their piano music on Pandora to lull them to sleep. We’d never seen rain in California before, so I motioned them out of bed to witness the historic phenomenon outside their window. After all, it would probably only last a few minutes, and those precious drops would drizzle away to faint memories.
I tip-toed back to my room, terrifying the cat in the process. I’m sure we confused her, these strangers who invaded her fortress every summer and kept unpredictable hours.
As I pulled the warm duvet over my shoulders, I noticed the gentle dripping was already gone. Only the soothing trickle of the neighbor’s deck fountain remained to keep me company. Just as I had predicted, it was merely a cruel taste of the elusive rain that California is so parched for.
A few hours later the drumming of a downpour on the roof broke through my dreams. My eyes flew open to stare out the window into the semi-darkness. There it was, the glint of a thousand raindrops against a streetlamp. A low rumble of Thunder rolled across the sky.
I love sleeping to the sound of a distant thunderstorm and smiled in the darkness. Bitty Girl was sprawled next to me where she’d settled herself after waking up chilly an hour before. I tucked her back in and relaxed in the rain-washed breeze.
Crash! The sky lit up, and thunder boomed like a roaring giant awakened from hibernation. The rain fell harder and louder. Sensing the inevitable, I slipped out of bed and tip-toed back to my kids’ room. My oldest son whimpered from under his duvet, “I’m scared.”
“Scoop up your blanket and pillow and go crash on the floor in my room.”
He wasted no time and was curled up on my bedroom floor before I finished checking on Missy. She was still sleeping soundly. I decided to leave her as long as she was oblivious.
Just as I drifted back to sleep, another flash of lightening and clap of thunder jolted me awake. I knew that proximity to lightning.
The electricity was doomed.
A second flash confirmed my prediction. The fan fell silent and the world was plunged into blackness.
Through the cracked bedroom door, I watched a dim glow appear, fade, then grow brighter.
The overly-imaginative little girl that lives inside of my brain jumped to the forefront and screeched silently, “someone’s coming in!”
My mommy-brain told her to shush, grabbed my phone and fumbled for the flashlight app as I leaped out of bed to confront whatever horrifying creature was entering my bedroom.
The door slowly opened emitting a soft gust of air.
I shook my head impatiently at my stupidity and calmly stepped into the living room and shined my light around. I smiled at the sight of my father-in-law holding a candle and my mother-in-law right behind him with a handful more.
“Would you like a candle?” He offered me a tiny glowing dish with a cheery smile.
“Sure! Thank you.” There is always something warm and comforting about that little dancing flame.
I carried it to the bathroom counter where it cast a cozy glow that extended into the bedroom.
I traversed the darkness again to check on Missy and smiled to see her peaceful face, eyes still closed in oblivion. I was tempted to wake her up and carry her into the bedroom so I could avoid another trip through the dark house (how many times had I tripped across the Lego bucket in the living room in a single night?), but she showed no signs of being disturbed.
Back in the big bedroom, one son was smoothing his pallet, and the other was nowhere to be seen. Bitty’s faint snores floated from the big bed. I crawled onto Bug’s bed and found his feet, then his head, sprawled width-wise across the mattress with the duvet pulled up over his head. I pulled the cover back, and two big dark eyes stared right into mine. He giggled and sat up.
Both boys were wide awake from the booming thunder, so we curled up on my bed and conversed in hushed tones about the storm. I reminisced about living in a metal-roofed trailer when I was ten and described to my own boys the noise that would ensue every time we’d have a thunderstorm, which happened on a regular basis in southwest Missouri.
They asked about flash floods, and we discussed dams and man-made lakes until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. The noise of the thunder was moving away, and I shooed the boys back to bed to finish out the night.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My eyes opened lazily in the dim morning light. I could still hear the steady drumming and dripping of rain on the roof and trees and rushing through gutters.
Pans rattled and spoons clanked in the kitchen. Tea time, only this morning it had to be done the old-fashioned way: boiling water on the stove. Thank goodness for a gas cooktop on mornings when the electric kettle is deprived of power.
Now I’m sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor with my computer perched on my lap and a steaming mug of Chai tea, my fingers keeping time with the dripping rain outside the open window. The light bulbs are all asleep, and the appliances are eerily silent. I anticipate a day of books, games, and tea as the gadgets hibernate, and the rain gauge and creeks fill.