A few weeks ago, during one of my son's travel baseball team's games in Denver, Pennsylvania, black clouds above the field released one of those classic summer rainstorms.
In just minutes, the baselines flooded with mini lakes so deep you could stock trout in them. As the umpire called off the rest of the game and the losing coach from the other team screamed to continue play, our boys huddled under a big oak tree. With no sign of the rain relenting, I left the dry comfort of the tree to get my car that was parked on the other side of the three-field complex.
The pelting water soon soaked me right through my clothes, but instead of running toward the car, I actually slowed my steps.
This brief experience was exhilarating. I was 12 years old again, stomping through puddles on the way home from the neighborhood park. The water cooled my body from the stifling humid air; the scent of the summer rain refreshed my mind with an energy burst. It was as if an electric current was running through me from head to toe, flushing out all my toxins and leaving me feeling as pure and natural as the fresh water that fell from the sky in the offering of a welcomed drink to the thirsty grass below.
In general, rain is annoying and even disturbing at times, but not when it falls from summer skies. Add a few flashes of lightning along with some rumbles of thunder and you have a spectacular sound and sight show that revitalizes the senses and awakens an emotional hibernation into the uncontrollable giggles of a grade-school kid.
German-born Swiss poet Herman Hesse best describes the magic of this extraordinary moment.
"Rain Soft rain, summer rain Whispers from bushes, whispers from trees. Oh, how lovely and full of blessing To dream and be satisfied. I was so long in the outer brightness, I am not used to this upheaval: Being at home in my own soul, Never to be led elsewhere. I want nothing, I long for nothing, I hum gently the sounds of childhood, And I reach home astounded In the warm beauty of dreams. Heart, how torn you are, How blessed to plow down blindly, To think nothing, to know nothing, Only to breathe, only to feel."
The last sentence is perfect and worth repeating. "To think nothing, to know nothing, Only to breathe, only to feel." A summer rain reduces age to infancy so we can once again enjoy the wonders of heightened sensory awareness without thought, without judgment, to taste life like we did during our first few months removed from our mothers' wombs when the world was simple and new.
I'm certainly not the only one who signifies a summer soaking. Three years ago, singer Christina Aguilera named her newborn Summer Rain.
"Summer is a time of spreading warmth and light," she explained. "Rain replenishes and brings new life to allow growth and new beginnings."
Another beautiful feature of summer rain is its randomness, an unexpected thrill that if it were to occur every day, it would be as boring as the monotony of life. Some summers pass without any waterfalls from the sky that are memory makers, but that means an eventful rain even more extraordinary, especially if its aftermath is punctuated by the beautiful colors of a rainbow.
The other evening, I was fishing from the bank of a nearby lake when a soft rain fell into the water with thousands of dimpling droplets. This time I moved under a tree to look and listen. Water showered into water, creating blissful sounds of serenity all about me. I inhaled the freshness deeply into my lungs. As the tree kept me dry this time, I could take hold of this wondrous moment and absorb the gift Mother Nature had given me.
In my novel, "Upon a Field of Gold." I write a passage about my main character's epiphany during a late night June rain. "A sudden cloudburst poured a bucket of rain upon him. He stopped, lifting his head to the sky, letting the cool water wash his face. The rain felt good, purging him of everything that had gripped his mind. Mother Nature's baptism welcomed him to a new day and a return to himself."
Watch a summer rain from a window. See the vapors rise off the hot pavement of the road. Smell the fragrance upon the grass. Better yet, go out and dance under a downpour. Laugh aloud and feel the joy.
Rich Strack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.