The rains returned to the Northwest this week in droves. We had heavy rain nearly every day of the week, and it really came down at the end of the week. There were minor mudslides and the Wilson, Kilchis, and Miami rivers are swelling pretty full. These are the days Northwesterners have been warning us about since we moved. Weeks of rain without relief. But, we really need this rain for the plant and animal life to maintain. And the mountains to the east could use some snow too. So far, Allyson and I are enjoying the rain on our rooftop, the beauty of storm clouds circling the mountains.
With the rain keeping us in and Halloween looming at the end of the week, Allyson and I made it our goal to watch a scary or at least suspenseful movie every night of the week. It started with the 2015 sleeper hit The Babadook, which received mixed reviews in our house. Then, we returned to a classic from our teenage years, Scream. Next came Grabbers, a movie about a small Irish town that is terrorized by aliens who are allergic to high blood alcohol contents. On Tuesday we took a date night to the Seaside Cinema to see Guillermo del Toro’s new release, Crimson Peak. Then came the Robert Rodriguez vampire flick From Dusk Till Dawn. And, we finished out our horror marathon with a seminal movie from my childhood, Gremlins.
More often than not, we were disappointed by our horror movie choices (though Gremlins is still an awesome movie. What a classic), but we weren’t really needing a whole lot anyway. A big part of the draw was just snuggling up on a rainy night and watching something. We had had our business balance swing way too far in one direction to where there was no sense of normal. We found ourselves longing for something a little boring. I don’t want to get into the habit of watching 4 hours of television every night. I want to read, to write, to play music, make recordings, go out and walk next to the ocean. I don’t want to fill up my life watching two star movies. But, for this week, while it’s raining, while we’re getting in the spirit of ghosts and goblins, while we are looking just to be next to each other, a string of silly movies was just what we wanted.
As the rain picks up, you see changes all around you. The ground feels different, the air has a different taste to it. I see little newts making their slow journey from one side of the camp to the other. They are very slow and therefore at high risk for becoming road kill. If you don’t watch closely, you will easily step on them and squash them. When I see the newts making their slow-motion walk across the payment, I pick them up by their tails and put them in a safer territory under the trees and ferns. Practicing this kind of awareness if good for a person. Just knowing the surroundings enough to keep from stepping on cute little amphibians seems simple enough, but we are usually far too rushed to think about that. When I have time to pause my journey and move a little animal to safety, I really feel more apart of the world–and not the part of the world I’m writing in right now to blast out to the blogisphere–I mean the physical trees, dirt, and sky that I could hit my head on if I’m not paying attention.
As much as I’m not a fan of soggy jeans and socks all day, feeling that rain come down, here in Oregon, feels to me like an initiation into this place. Knowing what the ocean air, the raindrops coming from the sea feel like makes me feel more like I live here, like I’m a citizen in this place. I want to keep that balance with all my other lives. My Oregon life, my life sharing this with all of you, my life watching movies, my writing life, my Southern life, these are all part of me. So, I make it a point to still walk to work, even when its raining. Something deep inside me wants to know this place, so I have to know the rain.
For lunch on Halloween, Allyson and I decided to have lunch in the camp dining hall. It was a day off for me, so I was trying to lay low. The fire in the fireplace had gone out, so I added some logs to some smoldering coals and stoked them by waving a piece of laminated paper. The fire blazed up and soon spread to all of the logs. I love how the right air can bring a fire back, and before long you have a roaring fire. After finishing our soup and sandwich lunch, I returned to the fire to watch my creation burn a little while longer. Several little boys from the Nueva Esperanza Church Family group staying with us joined me by the fire and began talking to me.
Soon, a parent came to me and asked if I worked at the camp. When I told him I did, he asked me to come downstairs quick, the room was flooding. I made my way down the steps to see some pretty serious water pouring in from outside where a drain had become clogged. The frantic church members were trying to hold the water back with brooms while others tried to keep their musical instruments, soundboards, microphones, and music stands from getting irreversible water damage. All the available staff members converged. Some opened up the drain pipe after wet vacuuming the standing water out, getting drenched by the rain. Others grabbed more push brooms to route the water towards the drain in the middle of the floor of the meeting room. We checked on another meeting space, then began helping to group transport all their equipment there, so they could begin their worship service on schedule.
The day off did not turn out the way I was expecting. I had to shake out of the sort of solitary, in-my-head mood I thought the day would be. I had to leave my introvert self and be a more outgoing hosty self to make these people feel welcome and safe. They were stressed out as it was, almost having their equipment flooded, having their schedule thrown out of whack. They needed someone to come, help lift them up, then move them to the other side of the road. You never know, even when you drop in for lunch, if you will be called on to go out in the rain and get a little wet. We need this time in the same way we need the quiet rest. We just don’t always get to choose when we get each one, so we must know to accept each one as a gift when it comes to us.
We had a pretty low-key Halloween night. We did not plan far enough ahead to choose any costumes, so we didn’t attend any costume parties. We were tired of cooking, we were tired of going out to eat. Allyson and I declared each person on their own for dinner, so made our own eating plans. Allyson settled into a hot bath of epson salt, and I made a Japanese soba noodle salad, from a package my sister, Tracye, sent to me as a housewarming gift with food from foreign countries. I turned on a episode of Welcome to Night Vale, a podcast that’s kind of like A Prairie Home Companion crossed with The Twilight Zone (it seemed like a good match for Halloween). As the night settled in, I made my food and had a very peaceful evening. I’d go on to hand wash the dishes under the glowing sink light. It was rainy and cold outside–the ocean was roaring. Inside, I was warm, full of food, listening to storytelling and music. Such a relaxing moment, a moment that I’m sure will give me something I might offer to someone else some day down the road, just like this driving rain, feeding these roots just below the surface.