Tobago

Tobago
Horizon at Sandy Point

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Sound of Rain

When we were little, the only thing we ever wanted to do when it rained was to run outside and play in the water. But we were forbidden. We would ketch cold, or die of pneumonia, or be struck by lightning. (The worst case of rain that we ever knew was a bad cold!) So we would sit inside our elbows at the windows and watch the water falling from the sky, hear the swoosh of the wind and trees, feel the damp stickiness turn to cool breath the more it rained, and smell the green rot of the drinking earth. Thunderstorms were more exciting - counting the seconds to the crash after every sudden flash of lightning. When drains and river flooded, we were absolutely forbidden to step in the swirling streams of mud coursing across what was a front lawn or driveway. People drowned and were dragged through the drains their bodies lodging behind some mangrove in the Caroni or drifting out beyond the first Bocas - we had heard of one boy from Santa Cruz or San Juan whose body was found somewhere down the islands!

I think I was not yet twelve, that day in the long mid-year vacation when I led my brothers and sisters - four, maybe all five of us - and an older cousin, on an after-rain adventure to the swollen river at the back of our farm.  We went - shorts and flipflops, and some glass jars - a rag tag bunch of country children, to see what the river had brought down, maybe to pick up some small fish in the still places where the river made a bend, or tadpoles. Who knows what you will find in a river arriving from mountain rains? The river was high, and murky with red dirt. Its course had changed. I remember being awed, even a little afraid - but couldn't say it. We couldn't tell how deep it was off the bank. But we were kids, and we started poking around the bank. Look there's a snake! Watch the shoe running so fast in the middle of the river! Slipping and sliding off the soft bank. Hauling the little ones back up. Knowing just enough not to go in, even though this was our river that we knew as clear and sweet on sunny days.

It must have been the hour before lunch when kids must find something to keep their minds off the rumble in the tummy. But the river was amazing compelling, too exciting to leave -  until another raincloud broke the spell. We must have stayed hours! Could we make it back without getting very wet? Well, it's impossible to run a quarter mile with five or six year olds in slippers, and stay dry. Drenched, shrieking, giggling at the rain, the sky. Hot blood flooded our heads. We licked at water dripping off noses, felt the rivulets over necks and arms and down our backs. We had such tales  unworded in our pounding hearts...

Laughter was cut short. This was the angriest I had ever seen my mother. Where had we been for almost three hours? Can a child account for even one hour of a day? Of course we got licks. Me the most for knowing better, being ringleader... What if something had happened? What if...

But nothing bad had happened. And forever I remember the wildness of the running river the wildness of the child racing the rain. And welcome every roaring rain shower like the thirsty earth.

 No river here! View from my porch after rain

1 comment:

  1. When I first moved to Trinidad,I found the reaction of adults and parents, to children playing in the rain, very surprising. Coming from a country where the weather ranged from -50 degrees to 32 degrees, within any year, the slight change in temperature caused by the warm rain, did not register on me.

    I was asked, by complete strangers, if I was trying to kill my children, when I let them play in the rain.

    While I appreciate now, the power of the flowing water and its inherent dangers, I still love going out in the rain!

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