Monday, January 24, 2011
I remember the last rain I had seen before this glorious day. It was January and this being October 24th it was long overdue. I was training soldiers on a firing range near the back entrance of our base. If it weren’t for the hills of dirt pushed up in rows forming the range, I could see for miles in a spot like this with nothing to interrupt the curve of the earth and horizon meeting. I remember that last rain and how the dust turned to clay and mud, weapons jammed and soldiers huddled closely under camouflage netting for cover. Not I. “Enjoy it,” I said, “because it won’t last and will be gone for a very long time." I spread my arms and looked up as if worshipping the rain and sky until it was over.
Today as I sit in my little metal shed it finally comes back: the rain. The drops start slowly on the roof and soon it is as if there is an entire grade school class throwing handfuls of pebbles at my living quarters. I smile, if not outwardly then surely inside. I rise to the door, thunder crashing, dark gray and black skies looming overhead, and I step onto the pallet that is my porch. A piece of plywood stretches above me between the mortar barriers as an awning. Another two steps and I am in the rocks now, gravel hauled in by the truckloads and put between the endless rows of other barriers and metal sheds where other soldiers live and sleep. My arms are stretched out again and I am looking up to the sky. I take note of the fresh smell that rain always brings, even in this country. The air is thick and humid. Thoughts are racing through my mind. I realize I need to be near nature again or at least my concept of it. The mountains, trees, rivers, cold; America, Oregon. The ground wet with dew and a hazy fog rising off the lake at my feet. I would be wearing a damp pair of blue jeans with a knife at my side and a day of exploring ahead. “This could be my medicine,” I think. This would bring me back to who I am. This would remind me of what I am not. But for now, all I have is the rain and it is glorious.
Andrew Schultz - This is a selection taken from one of my many journals written over the years. This piece was selected for the opening of the Washington State University "The Element" online journal of the arts in 2010 under the "Prose" section.