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.

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16 thoughts on “Natural Rain

  1. I’m going to try to take a cue from Pete here. Mind you….I’m going out on a limb here but these are my thoughts about why the “rain vs the water” might make a difference.
    This is what I know about rain. It carries ozone with it. That beautiful smell you referred to when it rains is the ozone level changing. Ozone carries oxygen. Unlike the stuff we breathe (molecular oxygen) is made up of only two atoms, ozone is made up of three oxygen atoms.
    That explains not only the smell but the reason all those beautiful living things love it so much.
    You can read more here. It’s very interesting, especially if you are a gardener or avid nature watcher. http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2013/04/what-makes-rain-smell-so-good/
    Just don’t try to do the same thing with your plants artificially by using an ozone generator machine. While an ozone generator will help with many health problems it will damage or kill your indoor plants. But it does duplicate the smell of new rainfall quite nicely. Another weird thing about the ozone generator is, if it’s on in your home and you spray citrus room spray it will fog up the area very quickly! My sister in law did this by accident one day. It didn’t seem to hurt anything or anybody but I don’t know if it’s dangerous.
    How’d I do, Pete?

    • You did great! I think ozone is dangerous because it oxidizes so fast — it’s O3 rather than O2, and like they say, three’s a crowd. It can’t wait to get rid of that third wheel.

      • Over 40 years ago, my dad did a lot of research on ozone and discovered that it wrecks the (at that time) rubber tubing and seals used in rockets. He also breathed it (it was quite common for scientists to use themselves as guinea pigs) and discovered that it’s not great for people to breathe. Or plants for that matter.

        It’s also quite useful in the stratosphere, because it absorbs UV-B rays.
        It does, however, make rain smell great. And I love it for that.

  2. MY Lovely Love;

    I know you get these, but I saw this and thought of you and how you have tried to nurture me and help me thrive. Thank you for all you do.

    Love you

    On Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 1:01 AM, QuinnCreative

  3. Love, love, love this….”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.”

    I SO need to hear this right now and take it in, thanks!

      • Hey, that’s part of a math joke! It has to do with Simeon Poisson, who did lots of original work in calculus and who the Poisson distribution (statistics) is named after. I’ve mentioned it here before, by the way, in the form “One man’s Meade is another man’s Poisson”, and I still don’t know who “Meade” was. 🙂

        And besides Riders of the Purple Wage, it’s also referenced in Gravity’s Rainbow where the distribution of V2 rockets aimed at London is (supposedly) a Poisson distribution. But I barely got through Gravity’s Rainbow, and I can’t claim to have the slightest idea what it’s supposed to be about.

        • Poisson was also a denier of the wave theory of light and never forgave Fresnel for proving him wrong. My mother pre-dates Gravity’s Rainbow. And if you insist that one man’s Jampf is another man’s Slothorpe, it becomes, well, difficult to see the humor.

  4. 46 degree rain? What’s not to thrive in; it’s just a good first round before the ice coating makes everything lethally slippery, the snow works out to 28 tons of lifting just to get to the mailbox, the heating bills start to…oh.

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