The images coming from friends in the States this week are all white. Flocked trees and drifty rooftops, buried driveways, friends’ children with brilliantly red cheeks above their scarves standing with sleds. It’s cold, they say. Events are cancelled. Despite our crazy, adventurous life I have still lived more years in Minnesota than anywhere else and how well I know these scenes. These will not be the memories of my children’s childhood.
The extremes of hot and cold are not Java’s climatic parameters. Around here things are always in terms of wet and dry. Right now, in the heart of the rainy season, we’re talking wet. I’ve been told by many people that this year rainy season is different–it rains nearly every day but apparently still less than normally.
It still seems plenty rainy to us. Rain visits us often and we see her in all her moods, her cheerful plopping ones, her wispy, misty ones, her raging tantrums. Sometimes it’s not so much rain as a deluge. Water just falls from the sky in sheets. The air seems more water than air and the noise of the water striking the tile and tin roofs and the gushing of the streets is instantly deafening. Rain comes with a literal roar.
The children don’t mind. We’ve had several rain parties, usually on Sunday afternoons. It’s lollipops and raindrops for all and the children dancing wildly around. I have so far had the good sense to confine these parties to the courtyard, so the neighbors receive no additional proof that we are, in fact, crazy.
When we moved here it seemed strange that most roads are edged with two- or three-foot deep concrete trenches. I wondered why there was a concrete track six inches deep running around the patio in front of our house.
It is because water runs in sheets from the roof and neither the gutters nor the ground can absorb it fast enough. And there are roaring rivers everywhere. Yesterday was one such day. Though most days still dawn sunny and bright and the rains don’t begin until afternoon, yesterday dawned dark grey and by mid-morning the roar of rain was reverberating through the house. We had the day off from language school and a busy week ahead so I spontaneously kept Norah home from school for some needed family time. After lunch the girls and I ventured out with umbrellas to a little restaurant about a half-mile away.
(Mommy: “Norah, if any of your teachers or friends ask you why you weren’t in school Friday, just tell them you had to go out for milkshakes.”
Norah: “Yes. It was an emergency!”)
We were soaked by the time we reached the end of our street. I was astounded to see the trenches on each side of our road full with rushing water and all manner of flotsam and jetsam eddying on the current.
I love Java like this. I guess I’ve always liked the rain and around here it seems special, refreshing and miraculous in a particular way. Probably because it is. Hot climates really aren’t my valentine and sometimes I have to make a mental rule that I will not think about Oxford until the weather changes. Transitioning to a new climate involves a certain kind of loss–perhaps I knew it was coming but it’s one of those things that’s harder when you’re in it. During autumn I felt the loss of many things, perhaps particularly of cosy. Does Indonesia even do cosy? I did not think so.
But she does. Oh, she does. Yesterday we opened all the windows and doors to the roar of the rain and I turned on lamps and lit candles in the family room.
I made a big pot of steamy cauliflower soup with parmesan and crusty bread for lunch and ate it in front of the courtyard door, watching the rain.
Which fell and fell and fell.