Praying For Rain

I come from pioneer stock. People who crossed the US when there were no roads, or railroads. Long before cars and airplanes, or California was even a state. They carried all they owned in a wagon with wooden wheels, pulled by animals, and they walked. You have to be stubborn, and maybe desperate, to undertake such an adventure. And when they got to where they were going, their homestead, they set down roots and many became farmers. Just like my grandfather.

Farming was almost a compulsion for my grandpa. The one who taught me how to fish. He farmed strawberries and sheep. When I was little, I would help feed the lambs in a pen outside my grandmother’s kitchen door. The lambs whose mothers didn’t survive the birthing process. And when I wrote my first novel there is a character of a sheep farmer who owns a farm just north of Logroño, in honor of my grandfather.

And what do farmers worry about more than anything else? The weather, of course. It’s in their DNA. My parent’s both inherited this gene from their forefathers. When we moved from Los Angeles to Oregon, my mother would write letters back to her favorite aunt and uncle in Southern California. A childless couple, she was their surrogate daughter and once a week they exchanged envelopes. And once a week, they each would cut the weekly weather forecast from the local newspaper and slip it into the weekly correspondence. I know that my mother’s uncle kept every one of the weather slips she ever sent, over a twenty + year period. And she looked forward to receiving theirs.

After I grew up and moved away to other states far from where I was raised, or traveled to the far corners of the world, when I would call home, one of the very first questions would always be shouted from my Dad in the background as my mother spoke to me. ‘What’s the weather like there?’ And then my mother would say it to me, again. ‘Your father wants to know what the weather is like there.’ He kept a world clock next to his chair, but he couldn’t conjure the weather where his children were across the globe.

Sometimes, my mother would call me out of the blue. ‘You know you’re supposed to be getting a big snow storm tomorrow.’ she would say. ‘We just saw it on the news.’

I would often be left speechless by these pronouncements. All of Chicago would have been on high alert. Including those at my office. ‘You know I live here, right?’ I reminded her.

‘Well, yes.’ she would tell me. ‘I just wanted to make sure you knew about it.’

Sometimes I would wonder how she thought I was able to successfully operate in the world on a daily basis as an adult. To be fair, she did this for all the The Charlie Brown holiday specials that would play on tv every year, too – until I was 50 and moved to Spain. Amongst other topics. It wasn’t isolated just to the weather.

So, it’s no wonder I have been worried about the weather, no less. Sure, it’s been hot. Baking hot in Spain this year. But I wasn’t as worried about that. I was worried about when the rains finally came. Because Galicia is a rainy place. And I am operating a food truck with no permanent structure over my tables – because it’s not allowed yet, by the patromonio. What would happen when the monsoons started and Pilgrims had nowhere to shelter? Would my business, ironically, dry up when the water began to fall?We’ve had a few days of rain, but none during my opening hours. Until today.

This morning, we awoke to a deluge, wind, and thunder. I wondered if opening up was a fool’s errand. Who would stop here in this? But, as with so very many things, I was wrong. Very wrong. As the sun rose, Pilgrims began trudging down the road in their rain ponchos, leaning against the wind and the water. I was in the food truck with the door closed for the first time, against the cold and the rain – in a coat – in August. Jeff opened the gate and put the sign out. Then, I proceeded to have my best day ever.

In the first two hours after opening I had sold out of a ton of stuff, exhausted the waffle batter, run out of cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches, and had begun enthusiastically (in desperation) pushing frozen fruit smoothies in a cold downpour.

‘What’s good?’ they would ask.

‘The smoothies. Get a smoothie.’

It turns out, as long as I can keep the umbrellas positioned correctly, the tables dry with a squeegee, and dry towels under pilgrim bums, people will grab a table and not let it go. They sat there in their rain gear, and just kept ordering warm things. Sadly, if they ordered an espresso it was an Americano by the time it got to their table, so much rain had fallen into the cup. But it was awesome!

I am no longer concerned about the autumn, when the weather will turn cold and wet. Apparently, that’s my sweet spot. And I know why. They say those of us who grow up in the Pacific Northwest of the US, all have webbed feet (like ducks – the mascot of our State University). Because it is a very rainy, wet place. Or it used to be. So, landing in Galicia and opening a foot truck in the wettest part of Spain is right in my wheelhouse. I can take a page out of that scene in the movie Forrest Gump, where Lieutenant Dan shouts into the hurricane ‘You call that a storm?! Come and get me!’ Because, from now on, just like my grandfather, I’m praying for rain. And a lot of it.

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