Saturday, September 4, 2010
Life as I Knew It
“I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.” Leviticus 26:4
Ah! The rains in their season!! Anyone who has been to Africa in the rainy season will appreciate that verse! There is nothing quite as wonderful as the African rains –the way it splashes as it lands in huge drops on the dirt roads, the way it sounds as it pings down on a tin roof, and especially the way it smells! Yes, rain has a smell; one that is cool, refreshing, and full of promise.
The rainy season was the best of seasons. Everything was green and lush. The flowers bloomed, and the trees yielded their fruits. We had a guava orchard in our back yard when we lived in Ogbomosho. My father “gave” us children a few trees which we could eat freely from but he told us to keep our hands off of the rest. My mother made jelly and preserves from the other trees. The children’s trees seldom had ripe guavas on them since they were gobbled up before they could mature. Many times I have climbed high into the guava tree looking for the perfect guava; one that was large, smooth (no bug holes), and not quite ripe - the perfect color of yellow/green.
Rains in America are cold, even in the summer time because they usually accompany a cold front. In the states, when a cold front moves in, it can rain for quite a while, sometimes even days, if the front becomes stationary. African rains are quite different. During the rainy season, it rains at least once a day in a short refreshing burst of cool water. The rains bring a welcome temporary cooling of the hot ground and air. As a child, I played in the rains as often as I could. My siblings, friends and I would sense the rain coming, put on our bathing suits and meet in the dirt road that ran down the middle of the mission compound. We would play barefoot in the mud as we watched the downpour make little rushing streams in the road. The mud squished between our toes, and the smell of the rain engulfed us.
Once when my father was traveling home from a preaching engagement with my little sister and me along for the ride; a rock from the dirt road flicked into our windshield. This was before the days of shatterproof glass and the rock shattered our windshield. Fearing glass would blow onto us as we traveled the rest of the way home, my dad stopped and carefully removed the entire windshield, one little piece at a time. This would have been a good idea, except for the fact that it was rainy season. Sure enough a sudden rain storm blew up and my father had to drive with the rain pouring in on him. He told my sister and me to get in the floor of the back seat so the front seats would partially block the incoming water. I remember thinking it was one of the grandest adventures I had ever experienced. My sister and I hunched down in the back, each behind a seat and giggled at each other as the water pooled at our feet. I don’t think it was as much fun for my poor dad though. He drove slowly on ahead in spite of the rain in his face. When we arrived home, we took warm baths and then my mom made hot cocoa. That too was an adventure! I had never had hot cocoa in Africa before...or since.
To this day, I love a summer rain. My sisters and I have talked about the fact that we enjoy watching it rain. A house I once lived in as an adult had a screened porch and I would always sit out there when a storm was blowing, though my husband thought I was crazy. My sisters say they like to go outside just before it rains too. I have talked with many of my childhood friends and have come to find that loving summer rains is a common trait among people who have experienced the tropical rainy season.