Around the Valley, Rain

Found words from October - 


The sun here beats so strong that my students sometimes don't even want to have recess. It's too strong to think or play - all you feel is heat. When it rains, a different place descends, calm and cool and reflective. Green shoots come up and the next day, it seems, they're ready to be harvested as cotton, corn, soy, sugarcane. Our backyard has sprouted bananas and avocados. The citrus is coming. 

It rained yesterday. I woke up at friends' house in Harlingen, a city known in the Valley for having the most white people and the most Winter Texans, retirees who come south for the winter (we spent Friday night at a soda bar watching 50 year men in bandanas play the blues). Saturday morning can be sleep or work in coffee shops - but we, Northeast transplants, chased the thought of a city. We drove to Brownsville because it promised buses and parking meters. 

Every city in this Valley has its own distinct feel. Brownsville moves at the pace of the slow-flowing Rio Grande. Coming into the city, if you forget to turn right on Washington Street, you'll end up in Mexico. When we arrived, we wandered slowly, lazily down sidewalks. We gloried in the paired luxuries of walking and accidental human contact. It began to rain and huddling under an awning watching steam rising from those rich sidewalks brought the smell of cities far away. 

In the late afternoon, I drove back to Weslaco. Brownsville is gritty wet sidewalks - Weslaco is a new housing development still tickled by the warmth of bordering fields.  I went to the bridal shower of a 3rd grade teacher at my school. We played wedding bingo and spoke Spanglish and ate small plastic plates heaped with desserts - cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, a mandarin cake the school nurse had baked for the occasion. I did my grocery shopping on a sugar high and by the time I was driving home, along the local highway, the clouds were over town.

When I got home it started thundering, then drizzling, then raining, that all-out downpour that makes this Valley one of the most fertile in the country. My roommate and I went for a walk at dusk around the citrus groves and marveled at the smell of new dirt.