Maybe It Will Rain Today

The sky lit up in a flash. “One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three – ”
BOOM, crack! “Whoa! That was a close one!”Every second you count after the lightning strikes indicates some unit of measurement for how far away it is.

Tonight the smell of wet caliche had been hinting at a storm for hours. As I drove through the west Texas desert I tried to remember exactly what distance each second is supposed to represent. One mile? Ten miles? I looked in my mirrors again to check the tarp covering my truck bed filled with everything I own.

We counted slowly, with precision, eager to see a record broken. We were packed like sardines between the sheets, tucked tightly under the roof of the mighty Mighty Mo – me, my little sister, and my dad – all intoxicated by the same caliche scent characteristic of the longed-for Arizona rainstorm. Lightning moved like a wiggling tree branch at the speed of a wink from ground to sky. The danger of its closeness captivated all of us.

I drove on and on, regretting not getting new wiper blades before leaving. Remembering the smell.

Caliche has its own completely unique smell. There’s nothing you can compare it to. The closest I could come to trying would be to say that you could sprinkle a little sugar over everything right before the rain….then imagine the faint, sweet taste of the sugar in your mind and pretend that it’s actually a smell, mixing with the familiar rain scent, making it sweeter. Just a little sugar on your corn flake cereal… a faint afterthought of a hint of sugar in your tea.

Rain in the desert is a wonder of creation. The usual grey-brown green of the desert plants turns almost turquoise under the dark sky. The clouds brood ominously and announce their presence unexpectedly – there is no in between or partly-cloudy, maybe-it-will-rain-today state of precipitation in the desert. During the 2 yrs my family lived in Phoenix I think it rained more than the rest of my time there, from when I was 13 after my dad died, till I left after high school. The sky poured down on us for a brief time. I drank it desperately after that, like a true desert dweller.

Or maybe I’m just letting my imagination exaggerate the distance with the remembrance of the storm.

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