Driving through the Deluge

People often talk about turning life’s lemons into lemonade. Sheesh! I’ll take lemons any day! Add a little water, some sugar, then drink down some lemonade. That sort of problem I can deal with–the “grin and get through it” type of problem.

When life throws problems my way, they come in torrents. It’s  much like the summer rains we get here in Florida. Those usually hit when I’m driving on I-75. The sky opens up like a faucet and even with the wipers on full speed I can barely see the road 10 feet in front of the car. During such downpours, you have 2 choices–pull over and wait it out, or (and this is what most people do) turn on the car’s flashers, slow down, and use the blinking red lights of the car in front of yours to help stay on the road.

Most people do this for 2 reasons. First, summer downpours last 20 minutes or so. Second, chances are you’re driving toward and then through the storm. Even crawling along with hazard lights flashing, the storm will pass by sooner than if you wait it out under an overpass. (And, personally, I feel safer crawling along than parked on the side of interstate.)

Lately, I feel as if I’m driving through a metaphorical deluge. Events just keep happening. I have no control except to try to remain positive. As soon as I think it can’t get worse, some new twist happens. (Maybe this is why I’m not getting lemons–I’d be dealing with bushels and bushels.) Normally such times in my life seem to focus on just my job or just  my personal life. Not this time. This time I’m getting hit from every part of my life and from every side and angle. I don’t know what bad karma I put out there, but it’s dumping on me now! Even with the wipers going at warp speed, I can still barely see where I’m headed.

Luckily, I’ve survived these deluges before so I’m confident I’ll get through this one. Eventually. I also know that during such times I learn who my true friends are and whom I can count on. Sort of like the spring cleaning my mother used to do when I was young, I know that this deluge is helping me wash away all the unimportant things I’ve expended energy on; once it ends I have a feeling my windshield will be squeaky clean and I will clearly know where I’m headed.

As I’m crawling through this torrential rain, I have remembered to thank my friends and express gratitude for all my wonderful students. They have been most compassionate and understanding. Thank you!

Transforming Memory

It’s a dull day in sunny Florida. It’s been ages since I’ve been able to do this, but I’m sitting on the lanai drinking coffee and eating breakfast. It’s an hour later than it feels due to the overcast sky and steady drizzle. I’ve been watching the pond collect the raindrops for about half an hour.

Yes, it’s “winter” here in Florida, but this is unusual. Even during rainy season, our rain usually comes in steady torrents. When I first moved here, it seemed as if a faucet was turned on and then off. I recall waiting 15 minutes after the rain ended for the water to drain off the flooded parking lot so I could get to my car.

This is different. The sound of it is gentle and steady. It is just so odd to have a dreary, overcast day all day. The smell of the rain is subtle with a hint of moss and fish. The feel of it is less ominous than our usual storms. And, it is damp. Damp that lingers and seeps into every crevice. Again, unusual. The promise is different, too. Torrential bursts of rain or thunderstorms are short and followed by sunshine to quickly dry and humidify. Then life gets back to normal. This rain has no promise of stopping. It reminds me of the jungle movies in which rainy season arrives with a steady drizzle that lasts for days and weeks until the characters (explorers, scientists, anthropologists, whoever) face rivulets of water growing into streams through their camps until they are nearly flooded away.

It also reminds me of camping in Michigan. I remember being huddled in a light jacket in early July as a storm blew through during which the temp dropped into the 70s and then subsided into a steady drizzle. We’d sit drinking coffee and watching it rain, forced to put activities on hold. I’d watch the rain drip from the trees and notice details.

I’m noticing details now and wondering how rain in the setting of my fantasy novel looks. I allow bits of my memories to shift and morph into details for the setting for the world in which my fantasy is set.

My main character has been slowed in reaching her destination when her transportation is injured. Now a steady rain is complicating the situation. What trees and plants does she see as she sits, damp and miserable? Is she unable to build a fire? Why? What does she hear?

As I notice air ferns peppering a tree trunk and moss hanging from other trees here, I wonder about her world. Are there plants or creatures hanging from the trees there? Are they poisonous or will they bring comfort? Is there a plant that thrives in the damp and wet that might save her steed? What must she do to find it?

How does she distinguish the natural sounds, such as a woodpecker tapping and poking for breakfast, over the sounds of danger?

As I linger on the lanai, allowing the drizzle to sift memories to the surface, I transform them into pieces and details to create the setting or twists in the plot.