The talk of summer started as a low whisper. With a tentative look on their face, my Japanese friends would ask how I like the Japanese rainy season. Being a desert rat I had no idea what a “rainy season” was. We had arrived in September so missed it completely. The rainy season begins in early June and ends the last weeks of July depending on where you live. Different sections of Japan have different dates for their rainy season.
My first rainy season did not start off hot. The temperature being in Celsius is forgotten but not its memory. Its coolness has a fragrance to it that makes having all the windows open a must. A gentle breeze dances with my curtains and stops me in my tracks. It is delicious. I savor every minute of this lovely weather. Intuitively I know I will need this memory in the future. In honor of all those who are missing this experience, I absorb it into every cell of my being. About every other day the sky breaks open and great quantities of rain crash to the earth. No wind, no drama, it just falls as if the bucket is overflowing. On these days the windows remain open, the sound adding sweetness to the fragrance.
Like a bully pushing its way to the front, it crowded out the cool, the sweet and the freshness. It has brought a heaviness I have never experienced. Walking outside feels like someone has swaddled me in a warm, wet blanket. This claustrophobic ness has made conscious breathing an act of defiance. Focusing on my breath enables me to quiet my mind and forces me to be in the present regardless of how off-putting it feels. I force myself to be grateful, to savor, to be present. I start leaving the house with Rich, he would go off to work and I start my daily walk around the river. At six in the morning the heaviness is not quite so dense.
As the days heat up so does the noise level. I recognize the frogs croaking, crickets chirping, birds singing, squawking and scolding. An unfamiliar sound grows in volume as the Celsius degrees increased in amount and longevity. In the heat of the day the volume takes my breath away. It reminds me of the irrigation pump that fed our watering system on the farm. It has an electric buzz to it, but intuitively I know it is not electrical, but a bug. The sound is high pitched, nails on a chalkboard irritatingly, but not quite. It is rhythmic. It has an eerie chanting quality, almost a taunt. As if the bug knows that causing a negative reaction to it is violating my personal journey of enlightenment. My husband seems not to even notice the sound. This in and of it self is irritating.
One morning as we descend the stairs, I hear it, one high-pitched call. A single, rhythmic taunting noise. I scan the horizon like a mad woman. It is so clear I can make out where the sound is coming from. I want to see what is making all this racket. As I descend to the next floor, my eyes and ears help the brain hone in on its target. There it is! The sound is coming from the cable crossing our neighborhood. On the third floor we are eye to wing. It is the biggest bug I have ever seen! (Well, other than that huge cockroach in the community garbage closet I saw yesterday.) “See it, see it! That’s it! That’s what making the noise. The bloody awful racket when it’s hot.” I screech disturbing our peaceful building. I race down the stairs hoping it doesn’t fly away. My husband follows me down with that look on his face when he realizes he is trapped and can’t do anything but go along. How can one small bug, comparably to the world, make so much racket-horrible racket?! Standing in the road, I look up at this bug. To my surprise a small wave of joy ripples through my body. Now I know what a Cicada looks like. To me there is a buildup in these days of the rainy season, like a crescendo. The days get brighter, warmer, heavier, noisier. My clothes soak faster in sweat sooner. Energy is frantic, exposing the struggle. The struggle of all living creatures trying to maintain balance in this heavy, moist, bright heat. It begins earlier and earlier, ending later and later these days signaling the approach of summer. And just when you think the only response to all of it is to start screaming while you tear your clothes off.. ………..
The clouds roll in and break loose.
Walking the river in a torrential downpour is delicious. The rain brings relief. It brings quiet and gentleness. The birds quit squawking and the cicadas quit buzzing. The clouds blanket the sky. The world is easier to look at in this light. Breathing fresh, un-airconditioned air is like eating dessert. Wearing rain-wet clothes feels like my after-work clothes. I am giddy. Walking down the river path I swing my arms, there is a bounce in my step. I hum “singing in the rain”. I smile with my whole being. I know I look funny because the Japanese are trying not to look at me. The river moves along encouraging me to enjoy this moment, this peaceful, calm, fresh moment.
A bright sunny day ends the rainy season and summer begins. Its a 90/90 day. Ninety percent humidity and ninety degrees. I know why the Japanese eat raw food. Who in their right mind would add more heat to their day?