Monday, June 16, 2014

Day CXXIX: Hot Rain

Innately, Mondays are the hardest part of the week.

There's nothing kind about them. The weekend is ushered away, quietly, as if behind a curtain, and the week, with its worries and speculation, is suddenly front and center, spotlit, pronounced. Even on a day like this--terminally gray, drizzly, tires spitting back on to the streets in globs of recycled rain water--there is such unfortunate urgency in the footsteps of others, in the impatient tap tap tap of the line outside the coffee shop. That pressure to keep up, to engage in the same swiftly moving stream of the day, it's tricky on a Monday. 

It's like standing in hot rain.

I was eight years old the first time I went to Liard Hot Springs in British Columbia. The springs are actually tucked away, deep within a dense and boggy forest, about a mile away from the more populated campsites. A boardwalk simmers just above the water and moss and skittering bugs. Full of holes, eaten by nature and heavy foot traffic, it's not an impressive path. It's dangerous looking, even; perhaps it is frightening too. Of course, there are so many scary things to an eight-year-old. Everything about the single-digit years carries just a little fear along its backside, a tiny ridge of malevolence. A rickety path happens to look the part rather well.

The planks through the woods lead to a collection of pools, each steaming and sulfurous, smelling more and more like rotting eggs the closer you get to isolated spring in the back. The first spring you can step into is actually connected to several others. To the left, you wade into cooler territory. Cooler being relevant, of course. Ninety seven degrees is hardly "cool." To the right, necrotic coughs escape the water, just a foot or so from the grass that meets the edge of the hottest spring. No one stands more than fifteen feet away from the steps that dip into the center pool, perhaps out of fear.

I think my mother told Erick and I: standing in that spring would be like boiling alive.

A week or so before our first time in the springs, a bear caused problems at most reclusive spring, necessitating the closing of the walkway until the situation had subsided. A sign slung low, bright yellow and wrapped in heavy chains: "Closed - Bear."

To an eight year-old, "bear" was hardly much of a reason to diminish my experience in Muncho Lake. I wanted to enjoy every part of the springs, and seeing the last pool was very much a piece of that puzzle.

We reached the sign with just enough time for the rain to begin. Reading "bear" over and over and over, sure that we had all missed something, that it just wasn't time to open the furthest reach of the path, I planted myself in the grooves of the worn walkway. 

It began to pour. Loud, angry, drops pelting the trees, peppering the springs. And the rain was hot, hotter than the day, and heavy, heavier than the aches of an eight year-old's heart wishing for two more minutes of distance, for a bear to just go on and get out already.

There's this moment, defeated and stepping into the springs, that stands still in my mind.

Rain punctuates every step away from the stairs, my feet searching for slightly cooler temperature, my nose for a little distance from the smell. There is strange space ahead of me, hollowing out a small section of the earth at the very back of the connected pools. A bird spins in the rain, it's little twig feet dipping into the water. 

Shake, shake, shake. 
Flurries of water roll off her feathers and into the world. 

I think of how hot the rain feels. 

I think of how slow this moment moves. How slow it is.

I think of how sluggish this moment will always be. How sluggish it's always been. 

I think of how watching that bird toss the warm water away from its tiny body, seeing every feather ruffle, carelessly, recklessly, frenetically part and expel the hot rain, will always feel so sedated.

It's that hot rain. 

It's that odd standstill between moving and memory.

Today, the rain creates these charming little rings in the puddles on the streets. Little ripples stretch and diffuse, replaced in an instant, a lovely little chain of pitters and patters and plinks.

And the warmth of the rain, pouring heavily from the sky, embodies this Monday so well.

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