As Bob Dylan once wrote . . .
As Bob Dylan once wrote, “The Times They are a Changin’.” And they are surely a changin’ ‘round Bluff.
After an exceptionally hot and dry summer – which made us wonder whether there would be any water left to drink when fall arrived and caused some of us to question whether beer might be the only alternative – precipitation has fallen on our parched land.
It was not Priscilla’s six-inch rain where a drop falls every six inches; it was the genuine article.
Now, I am a desert-dweller. I was born in the desert, I have spent the overwhelming majority of my life in the desert, and from all indications I will receive my ultimate reward, or final penalty, while residing in the desert.
As such, rain is sacred to me. Indeed, as a long-time Indian trader and purveyor of Southwest art, I am exceptionally fond of Hopi jewelry.
With its clean lines and precise motifs, this artistic movement often communicates clouds, lightening, and life-giving moisture.
The Hopi, being dryland farmers and sophisticated craftsmen, have developed an entire economy around silver and gold work representing clouds, storms, and rain. That symbolism speaks to me in a deep, thundering voice.
Never will I forget the man, who professed to be a grandson of visionary Lakota holy man Sitting Bull, leading me outside during a particularly heavy thunderstorm and instructing me to wet my hands and rub the falling droplets over my face, arms, and chest.
Not only did his exercise refresh me, it also left me feeling cleansed in body and spirit.
From that moment forward, when raindrops begin falling, I uniformly rush outside to repeat the ceremony.
When this storm initially rolled in, I was, as usual, the first out the Kokopelli doors and into the deluge.
After reinvigorating myself in the downpour, I retrieved Priscilla’s metal bucket to collect water for the fountain grass arrayed in clay pots along the trading post porch.
Having been drenched with rainwater, they too seemed regenerated, and appeared to dance with delight.
I imagined them saying, “Wow, this is the real thing!”
While we collected and watered, Priscilla related legends associated with thunder, rainbows, coyote, and To’ Neinilii, the Navajo chief of wet things. Life was good, and my thirst sated.
The water inundated our small valley, causing the washes to run and weeds to spontaneously sprout. After a while, water began to seep under the back wall of Twin Rocks Café.
We were nonetheless happy in the knowledge the gods had finally smiled upon us. Comfortable my personal appeals had not been acted upon, I speculated it was either Native ritual or Mormon prayer that eventually opened the spigot.
When the rain kept falling, I began to wonder whether someone had requested a larger allocation than actually required.
I questioned whether the experience was similar to that of a hungry man who finally finds food; once he gets started, it is impossible to stop.
All too late he realizes he has overdone it and must bear the consequences of his unrestrained consumption.
In our case, excess water saturated our carpets, moistened our mats, and whetted our weeds to the point they threatened to grow into forests.
We are, however, not like John Fogerty, asking, “Who’ll stop the rain?”
Seeing a trace of concern on my face, however, Priscilla reminded me of a quote I once read to her, “Rain clouds come floating in, not to muddy our days, but to make us calm, happy, and hopeful.”
After so many dry days, we were all that and more.