The first sign is the smell – the smell of water, of mist, of wet dirt. The clouds are unreliable; black nimbus towers can threaten and glare, but if the air below is too hot, the most we can expect from them is extra shelter from the sun.

But if we can smell it, it’s raining somewhere. And then we dare to hope.

Desert rain is rare and beautiful. The people here long for it, pray for it, as temperatures reach the low 100s and make this dry and thirsty place drier, and thirstier.

Even when it comes, though, we can’t trust it. Desert rain is fickle, and we know better.

Yet we notice with relief that the sun has faded, and our spirits rise when we hear the uneven pinging on the roof and see the trees wrestle with the wind.  And so, inspite of our uncertainty, we can’t help ourselves. We emerge from our air-conditioned homes to revel at it. We lift up our faces and stretch out our hands in a posture not unlike that of worship. We let our hair, our clothes, our whole selves get wet, because it feels like forever since the last time we could.

Minutes later, silence. The sun has returned, although lingering mist dampens its glare. The trees sway listlessly in the now gentle breeze. We hope the clouds will stay. We hope the storm will continue.

But we go back inside, and resign ourselves to waiting.