After a series of scorching-sun summer days, I wake to bland, gray skies. As I put Stella the dog’s collar on, then leash her in preparation for our walk, I notice a few drips on the wooden front stoop. I grab my denim jacket and a cap, just in case. Halfway through our walk, the skies release the water they have been storing up for days. We have nowhere to go but forward. Even the large tree branches overhead cannot protect us from this cloudburst. By the time we get home, I’m laughing; Stella looks perplexed and we are both thoroughly soaked through.
There is something about a summer soak. Unlike those fall showers, when a cold, wet rain creeps into the cracks and chills my bones and sends me inside to a hot cup of tea, this warm-weather downpour is a relief. I gladly frolic in it and soak in its cooling and life-giving properties as the plants seem to do. As the water slides off of the front porch roof, I can feel the heat lift off of my body and dissipate. I feel myself uncoil just as the parched earth opens up. It tells me that it’s time for a refresher, for life to renew, for a new growth spurt.
And once the skies clear to that pale summer blue and the sun comes back out, the air seems to have cleared. I do believe these impromptu downpours wipe away the dust and the clutter. It’s like cleaning the windows. The view before seems a little faded and washed out. And then, all of sudden, the colors are bright and the lines are precise. Everything stands out in a different way.
We experienced a memorable warm-weather downpour a few years ago on the western coast of France. We were hiking on a coastal trail along the English Channel, walking in and out of fenced fields, sand beaches and little wooded thickets when the rain caught us unaware. We quickly pulled on garbage bags over our backpacks and clothes then continued our hike in the pouring rain. Just as suddenly as it had appeared, it stopped. A warm breeze blew in from the ocean and dried the clothes we were wearing as we finished the hike. When we arrived at our destination, we lay our backpacks out in the sun and everything dried promptly.
After today’s soaking rain, I know things will dry out again. And yards, gardens, flowering plants will all look a little brighter. Later, I’ll sit out on my deck with a glass of Agua de Valencia, a popular drink from Valencia, Spain, and enjoy the view of nature doing its summer thing of growing as the fireflies come out to twinkle. Here’s the drink recipe if you want it.
AGUA DE VALENCIA
Makes two drinks.
½ c. freshly squeezed orange juice
½ c. Cava or sparkling white wine
¼ c. Gin
¼ c. Vodka
Mix all ingredients. Chill for an hour. Serve in champagne or Martini glasses.