Natural Rain

There’s an odd thing that happens in the desert–the landscape reacts completely differently to natural rain than to hose watering. Hose watering keeps plants alive, not much more. Leaves curl on the trees, the fruit trees develop a yellow tinge.

Pencil cactus, showing new growth, which is orange.

Pencil cactus, showing new growth, which is orange.

But once the Monsoon starts, you can practically hear the plants sigh and relax. Maybe even grow.

The Ocotillo, bare since early May, suddenly leafs out again. Watering can’t make that happen. The fig leaves uncurl. The pencil cactus pulls itself upright and looks full.

It’s magical. Surprising. It’s not the amount of rain, a hose can provide that. I don’t know what it is–the different quality of rain water, the fact it falls from the sky–I don’t know.

Looking for metaphors, the rain reminds me that we all need our own kind of nurturing. What works for one person doesn’t for the other. The teacher who inspires one person, doesn’t work for another. The parents that help one child thrive, suffocate another’s spirit.

Walking rainstorm in the desert. Photo: Erin and Lance Willett Flickr/Creative Commons License

Walking rainstorm in the desert. Photo: Erin and Lance Willett Flickr/Creative Commons License

We all need to find our natural rain. We need to find the refreshing, nurturing environment that helps us thrive. Don’t be satisfied with the hose water that keeps you alive. Look for the rain that helps you thrive.

—Quinn McDonald didn’t thrive in the 46F-degree rain in Northern Wisconsin, but she loves it when the desert smells like rain.