I love the smell of fresh rain. It speaks of newness to me—of the kind of cleanliness that can beat down dust-dry odors, christening the day with a kiss of holy water, sprinkled in wild abandon from above.
When I was a boy, I had an idea. Standing in a down-pour one day, I decided I would create a lemonade stand unlike no other. I would give chase to the black-bull clouds that stalked the greens of spring, lay my tables bare to the sky, and prime each cup with golden lemon nectar—just enough sugar in the mix to keep the taste tart, but palatable. When the drops began to fall, I would collect them in cup after cup, until the table was full. Then up would go my umbrella, and out would go my sign: “Rain-fresh Lemonade!”
The stand never happened. It seems that daydreams of youth are often too colorful to capture. But I think back on them each spring when the rains start. I breathe in that smell and my mind explodes in watercolor caricatures, probing the scenes like a ringmaster probes faded posters on a carnival wall.
Rain-fresh lemonade… Eyes come to rest on the rim of an empty cup. It follows the fluid curves of the cup, caressing with sight as suddenly, hands are everywhere—at the fridge for ripe, yellow fruit, at the drawer for the knife: slice, squeeze, a tiny spoon for sugar, just enough in the mix… I open the back screen and thrust out a bare arm like Zeus throwing a lightening bolt from Olympus. I hold the cup steady, studying, watching the rivulets of rain form on my wrists and frolic on my fingers. I must be careful, selecting, collecting, combining with my little sugar spoon until the feast is ready. Then, trembling with the trust of expectations, I pull the brew in, I close my eyes, and I drink.