I watched you from a distance for days. You were big. You were strong. You were masterly. I had such great expectations for what you could do for me.
I saw you grow. I liked the way you moved — slowly, but powerfully. Coming, inexorably, in this direction. Promising relief from this dry, parched season that’s left us all desperate and thirsty.
Can I help it if a tropical storm, rumored to be on his way toward official hurricane status, has this effect on me? Of course not. I’m from West Texas. I worship clouds, rain, winds, lighting, thunder. People in West Texas pray for rain, even when they’re agnostics, like me. Have you ever heard the saying about how there are no atheists in a foxhole? Well, the same is true about a drought. We all turn seasonally pious.
I watched the weather reports, with their estimates of 90 percent chances of rain, their flood watches, their eager warnings of an imminent deluge. I didn’t even feel as guilty about the crackling dryness of those withered little flowers I planted since, after all, Edouard was on his way. He’d save us from this interminable summer of triple-digit temperatures, blazing skies, and threatening wildifres.
The skies darkened a little. Clouds passed through. I watched the Weather Channel, surfed to the Doppler radar, agonized over your not-quite-hurricane status. “We don’t want the people on the coast to get hit with too big a hurricane,” the TV weatherpeople announced sanctimoniously. “We just want some rain for Central Texas.” Well, ha. We’re all so desperate for rain — what did we care? Bring it on!
But, no. You disappointed, Edouard. You left us all bitter and dry and untrusting. You didn’t so much hit landfall as break apart and deflate and dissipate, your little rings of clouds shrinking into feathery marks.
We wanted something big, something massive, something powerful to cool our fevered faces and nourish our brown lawns. And all we got is you. Face it, Edouard. In the end, you were nothing but an impotent drip.
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)