My earliest memory of rain is an exquisite one. I’m 8 or 9 years old and I’m lying in my bed at night, well tucked in. My father is a minister and our house is a parsonage. Not a glamorous one. Quite the opposite. The house has two bedrooms for four people. 900 square feet. It is painted light pink but you wouldn’t know it because it is caked with the dust of the tiny town of El Dorado in the Sierra foothills. The town, once called Mud Springs, hasn’t been muddy in a long time, hasn’t seen a drop of rain in months.
I’m lying in my bed in the bedroom I share with my little sister. A tiny light from her mini bake oven shines from across the room. My bed is next to the window. It’s dark, it’s cool, it’s quiet as a hushed church bell. Then a pattering sound, soft, like a mouse army on the move. The mice grow to the size of squirrels, now raccoons. Millions of them. I reach over and slide open the window. The first fresh rain is colliding with the slumbering dust. I imagine tiny poofs as the hungry powdery ground receives the tiny moisture packets.
Then the smell hits me. The scent, intoxicating, fills my head, my body. The cool rain breeze seeps into my room and onto my pillow. I smile. I feel what I used to call “the good kind of cold.” It gives me goose bumps and bathes my relaxed body in a vapor of gentle kisses. I wanted that moment never to end. In some ways it never did, for every time it rains I can smell that first smell and feel that original shiver.