It was a delicious morning in Tucson. In the night I woke briefly to the drum of rain on the skylight. Blessed rain in the desert! A welcome break from our searing 105 degree highs of June. By the time my feline alarm clock had gone off and been silenced with Fancy Feast, the outside was beckoning — sweet smelling and bird-chirping. The neighborhood labs were galloping joyfully through the puddles in the wash, their humans ready to join them at the slightest provocation. The monsoons have arrived.
It brought to mind James Russell Lowell’s writing of England’s springtime in The Vision of Sir Launfal:
And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur and see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers.
In the desert our rejuvenation comes in July. I was once at the Baptism River in Northern Minnesota on the May day when the ice broke, great chunks roaring and thundering down the hill to Lake Superior, a dramatic and sure sign that Spring was coming again. Every place has its cycles and its urge for renewal.
I needed that reminder this week. I’ve been to two funerals in a week, for good, sweet people who have left their families saddened and worn down by their suffering and loss. Now that I am of an age when such losses are common occurrences in my circles, I am looking at death as a part of the natural cycle of life. When people shrug off their accumulating aches and pains with “Well, it’s better than the alternative!” I wonder, is life always better? Doesn’t the time come when the “alternative” is welcome? When we can sing along with Tony Orlando’s yellow ribbon request, “I’m coming home, I’ve done my time”?
Still, the nearer the end of season comes for me, and the dearer the ones it takes, the more difficult it is to be sanguine. Perhaps we all need a rejuvenating rain to remind us that life goes on, with or without us.
Now in late afternoon the great fluffy cumulus clouds are building again over the mountains, the bottoms growing dark with moisture. Maybe it will rain again. I love the monsoons.
Coming of Age by Rosemary Rawson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.