"It's going to rain today," my 8-year-old son said. It was 9:00 a.m. and we were walking up the hill from our house, on our way to drop him and his sister off at school.
"How do you know it will rain?" I asked, "Sometimes it's just cloudy and it doesn't rain.''
"Oh, it will rain. See, the wind is coming from that way, and there are big rain clouds over there. It will rain."
I was skeptical. Having grown up in Portland, Oregon, I'd seen a lot of rain, but I'd also seen a lot of clouds that didn't produce rain.
I gave my two kids their goodbye, have-a-nice-day hugs and continued my walk. I have been walking every weekday, going a little further each day. The city installed a nice walking/biking path not far from my home, complete with convenient mile markers so I could tell how far I actually walked. I was determined to go a full five miles.
I reached the mile marker that indicated I'd gone 2.5 miles--time to turn around and head toward home. It was going to be downhill most of the way. I smiled, knowing I was going to accomplish my goal. That's when I heard the thunder. I mentally reviewed what I knew about lightning safety, picturing the crouching position on tiptoes that was considered the safest stance in a thunder storm, hoping I won't actually have to assume that position.
I am still a good 1.5 miles from home when the first raindrop hits the ground in front of me. I hear the pattering drops on the pavement and brush around me. At first it is a soft pop here and there, like popcorn starting to heat up in the microwave. More lightning and thunder. Soon the rain falls with greater frequency and I not only see the pavement becoming more spotted, I feel the drops on my clothes. I pick up my pace.
Soon I'm jogging through a rainstorm. Ben was right, I think to myself, it was going to rain. A woman passes me, pushing a jogging stroller. We exchange smiles, knowing we'd both rather be inside our homes. I remember my cross-country runner son, now on a mission. His favorite time to run was during a rainstorm. I smile.
By the time I am about one-half mile from home, the heavens open and the rain turns into a torrent that swells rain gutters and turns my jeans heavy, wet and cold. My shirt is completely soaked and I can feel the wetness creeping into my innermost layers and I feel the rain against my flesh. That's the point when I remember Them. I remember my pioneer ancestors. I've been thinking a lot about them, as I will be spending the weekend at Martin's Cove. I wonder how they handled rainstorms. Did they keep walking? Did they crowd into their wagons? Did they shelter under trees? Did they have dry clothing to change into? I knew that as soon as I could make my way home, I would step into a warm, dry house, take warm shower and change into dry clothes. The pioneers had no such luxuries.
About 3 blocks from home the rainfall takes on a different sound. Louder. More forceful. I feel a sting on the back of my neck. Hail. Soon the hail has replaced the rain and I am being pelted with gravel-sized hailstones, each one a needle-prick on the bare skin of my neck, arms and legs. Hail hurts. My shoes make a sloshing sound as I jog; as wet inside as they are on the outside. I take temporary shelter under a tree to catch my breath, hoping the hail lets up. That's when I notice that my mascara has melted down my face and onto my white shirt, making gray streaks. I hope nobody I know sees me before I can get cleaned up.
My fast pace and the unexpected weather have taken a toll on me. I am exhausted. My breath comes in gasps, but I want to get home as quickly as possible, so I leave the tree and jog some more. As I finally round the corner to my block, I notice that the water in the gutters has reached the level of he sidewalk and is rushing like a small river. My neighbor pulls into her driveway and sees me. The water has run down my face into my eyes, coating my contacts and making it hard to see. I blink and smile at her. She says something like, "Oh, you're out in this mess. Get inside. Hurry." Yeah. I finally reach my front porch and lean against the side of the house, panting, dripping, shivering. My son was watching for me. He brings me a towel. It is good to be home.