Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stormy Weather

Right now, were in the middle of our monsoon season. Which means, every day from now until some time in August, our days start off with the best of summertime intentions – sunny, clear, hot – and end in a swirl of violent storms. Come about 1:00 p.m., skies darken to bruise-colored purple, rain falls in sheets, hail in buckets, and the boom of thunder and the flash of lightening send Ivan to winding himself underfoot and Maddie to stuffing herself into the tiniest space in the house she can find.

Some days don't even bother to pretend they're going to be nice. They start off bad from the get go. Like yesterday. When I had to run into down for a ten o'clock appointment, then lunch, then a few quick errands before heading home to finish an assignment.

I was dodging the skies all day and by the time I got to my last stop – Home Depot for light bulbs and a flat of pansies – it looked like I was losing. The mountains to the east were completely obscured by a heavy curtain of rain. And it was headed my way.

All around me in the parking lot, heads poked out of car doors like gophers weighing their chances against a patrolling hound. Stay? Go? Wait it out? Play a game of beat the clock and chance the ruination of linen suits and skimpy shoes and leather bags, because, well, this happens every year but our collective amnesia means that no one in New Mexico even owns an umbrella and if they do, who remembers to unpack it from the golf clubs and put it in the car?

I decided to take my chances. Just as I scooted in between the opening automatic doors, it hit. The gal manning the returns counter pointed upward, beamed me a beatific smile, and mouthed something barely audible. If you've ever been out in public in New Mexico when a monsoonal thunderstorm hits, the last thing you'll hear before the machine-gun rat-a-tat-tatting obliterates all ambient sounds is the ubiquitous refrain: "We need it!"

It should be our state motto.

I gave the returns gal an obligatory nod of the head and grabbed my bulbs. But the pansies were out in the garden section, which was protected by a simple canvas canopy stretched over a steel frame. Would the flimsy roofing hold?

I decided to risk it again, and as I headed towards my goal, a loud whoosh sounded from above. I looked up in time to avert a long stream of water that had broken through a gap in the roof. Instead of falling on my head, though, it was soaking a shopping cart that was parked next to the pansy flats. Moving quickly, I grabbed the cart and pulled it out of the stream, which resulted in an immediate and thankful response from its owner.

Who turned out to be a nun.

"Bless you, my child," she said, and flashed me some teeth.

To which I could only smile in return and then dumbly reply, "You, too."

Note to self in the car on the way home: "Bless you" is not synonymous with "have a nice day."


czar said...

Your comment was entirely appropriate. After just finishing 540 pages of proofreading and indexing a Catholic Q&A, I can attest to the growth of lay ministry in the church, and women are being given an increasing role. I'm sure the Sister of Home Improvement was delighted with your response.

Here in the South, we call 'em gulley-washers. Heavy rainstorms, that is. Not nuns.

chickory said...

grrherhahaha czar, our lady of home improvement! take blessings whenever you can get em i always say. or i started saying that now. in north georgia, monsoons are called "frog stranglers"

lets see how many regional colloquialisms for rainstorms you can rack up today! i bet your garden looks good.

did you ever looking into that blogging gig from the vineyard? maybe it will turn out better for you than it did me. grhera

Aunty Belle said...

Heh. YA know I loves this post!
Have a nice day ain't the same thang, a'tall.

Thar's a security guard at the hospital who put ya under the metal dee-tector an inspects your purse fer knives afore they let ya in the ER door--an' then he say "God bless ya now". They days when Granny AIN'T in hospital that I wanna run by there jes' so he can tell me that.

Czar an' me learnt the same--gullywashers...but mama say "angels is bowlin' up thar'" too.

moi said...

Czar: I dunno. I skeddadled out of there pretty quickly before embarrassing myself further. Maybe she'll put in a good word for me with the Big Guy Upstairs to excuse my social 'tardedness.

Chickory: Frog stranglers? Love it! Nope, never looked into the vineyard gig because it would have meant too much time away from home. Not a good idea at this time in my familial goings on.

Aunty: I'm trying to reconcile those two images: of a world so whacked out, you need metal detectors in a hospital and of a security guard who manages to keep his humanity intact regardless.

Gnomeself Be True said...

They say we're in a monsoon now...but it's been dry so far, so I think those weather guys are all wet.
In a strange sort of way, I miss having nuns in my life. No, I don't miss the meter stick across my ass...but some of them had a wonderfuly generous way about them.

Great story.

Heather Cherry said...

Ha ha. I hate that. Like when the usher at the movie says, "Here's your ticket. Enjoy your movie." And you go, "You, too." D'oh. Your story wins, though.

Boxer said...

I was in N.M in June many moons ago and experienced exactly what you described (did you take those pictures??? wow-zer) It's not like PNW rain, which gently flows over everything and anything, but YOUR rain comes with a crash/bang and then dumps.

Did your pansies survive? And while we're on the subject of pansies.... I've always thought they were a pretty tough little flower and the word "pansy" is usually used to describe weak or delicate.

Doris Rose said...

Great Post. while you were in the thick of it, my little corner of the desert got big wind, dark clouds and ...12 raindrops! That has been happening consistently for the past year. pah. WE need it!
Oh yeah, I sent you that nun (wink)

moi said...

Gnome: You mean they punished you and then gave you candy? Hmmm . . . there's something Freudian in there somewhere, I'm sure.

Heather: I've done that, too! And I have a tendency to apologize inappropriately, too. Like when I'm at the dentist.

Boxer: Pansies are the toughest flowers ever! They bloom and bloom and don't give up the ghost until the first hard frost. They're a staple in my garden. And, oh, what I wouldn't give for a gentle, soaking rain. Preferably while I'm asleep at night.

Doris: Don't you hate that? Just enough to totally fork up the windows. How is it that you all just keep getting missed? I'm soaking over here!

TROLL Y2K said...

What a sweet story! Kind of surprised Ivan is a thunder-wimp though.

NYD said...

We get rains that alternate between day long mists and monumentous deluge. Either way it's always nice once it ends.

Saving the nuns shopping cart must have earned you a few points with "The Almighty One" How are ya gonna spend them tis weekend?

pamokc said...

Send some of it our way -- 100 degree days are making us all CRANKY. Very very cranky. Love LOVE the photos though and I never realized NM had monsoons of any sort. And that you received an unexpected blessing. Literally! ha

moi said...

Troll: It's quite the sight, all 75 pounds of pure muscle shaking like leaves on a tree. But as he's been getting more and more hearing impaired, he's also getting less and less scared. I don't know which is worse.

NYD: Not spending. Saving up :o).

Pam: No rain out your way? And tis the season for y'all, right?

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

this post made me smile...

we need it.