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Imprints of Past Lives

March 11, 2012

I have lost my sense of the rain.

It may not seem like much, but living in a state where rains frequent our landscape, I count it as a significant loss.

I am haunted by memories that echo the distinct smell of a storm on the horizon. I learned early that the smell of rain carried on the winds was a far greater indicator of an impending storm than any cloud in the sky. I even remember the infrequent, sharp scent that signaled precipitation would come in the form of feather-light snow rather than pounding rain.

But the sense of smell itself is gone.

I blame my drive to branch out from Oregon and explore the world around me. My first move from Oregon took me to Victorville, Calif., a high desert region where 4-inches of rain a year was the norm. Long-time transplants (for few ever really lived their entire lives in the desert) would tell me how clean the rain smelled. To me, the high desert rain smelled dirty. Tinged with an acrid mixture of metal shavings and car exhaust, each drop hinted of birth in a machine shop rather than in nature. Instead of welcoming the rain, I was grateful when it passed and looked forward to the blistering sun and unrelenting winds to dry the land and cleanse the desert of its smell.

When I finally left the high desert behind, I bounced around California, as well as the country. It took almost 15 years for me to find my way home. When I returned, I’d lost my sense of the rain.

On the plus side, what I lost in rain sense, I gained in assertive driving skills. While there’s far less call for it here, I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I can maneuver out of a pocket of plodding drivers and find the open road ahead. And I never would have learned that without spending a few years navigating Southern California’s frenetic freeway system.

From → Observations

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