Not a gentle rain. Not a soft rain. Not a rain to merely cut the dust.
No. A rain that comes down in sheets. Falling heavily. Coming down so hard that it stings the bare skin. Soaks to the bone in minutes. This is the rain I have for weeks prayed would come.
And this evening it came. In all its fierce, harsh, torrential power it came down from the leaden skies.
I watched from a window in awe. It's been so long since we've had a true rain like this. I didn't last long at the window though; some feral part inside me wanted - or perhaps needed - to be a part of this and celebrate its arrival. I have waited for this day and could now wait no more. Staying inside left me pacing like a caged wild cat; the pent up energy was enough to rival that of an OCD Border Collie.
The urge was too strong to control. I ran and pulled out the long bow. Strung it with an ease that only comes with much practice. Reaching back into the closet, I slid a handful of arrows out of the quiver; for some reason I had no patience to use that little bag that clips neatly onto my jeans and holds the arrows for me. Nope, didn't want it today. I gathered my simple, silent tools; one bow that stands almost as tall as me, and four slender arrows. Harbingers of death. And with that, I dog trotted outside, beyond the confining walls that create a house. I could not withstand this cage right now... I needed a wild, fierce freedom.
The sudden hit of rain was almost a shock. Cold, wet, harsh; the rain's fury was untamed and unparalleled. I could only grin in anticipation at the thought of being a part of this wildness. It satisfied something deep within me to be able to not only withstand the elements, but fight back in my own small way.
Time was fleeting, and I was eager to set my arrows flying. Gates take too long to deal with, so I instead jumped over the fence in one swift move. I landed on the other side, and in the pasture; my playing field for the evening. Setting an arrow on the bowstring never fails to send a small thrill through me... It is calming, focusing, quieting, empowering, and wildly exciting all at the same time.
Rain poured. I loosed my first shot, not aiming at a target but merely wanting length of flight. To loosen up, get a feel for how to shoot through such driving rain. I set the second shaft and took in my surroundings. Inhaled smoothly as I drew my string back. Three fingers on the right hand create a claw, holding your your arrow, holding your string. Draw back to your cheek, your ear. Draw and hold. Elbow level, neither pointing up or down. Draw and hold. Sight your target. Release. The arrow flies off the string with such power that a ribbon of rain water follows behind it like a streamer. Rain water bounces off the bow string, ricocheting into a display similar to a firework.
Rain poured. Stung my exposed skin. My bare arms, bare head, bare feet. I wanted to be in the rain; I had no hat, no coat, no shoes. I did not want them. Wanted to feel the driving rain which has for so long been only a prayer.
More arrows were shot; all equal in length, steadiness, and target impact. I was blissfully happy to be out in this powerful torrent, doing one of my favorite things. Feel the bow string slam against your left wrist, left hand. See the welt and bruise forming. Feel the aching pain in your fingers from drawing the string over and over again. Feel the pain and own it. It means you're alive; alive enough to be standing outside in a storm that not even the hardy sheep want to brave.
Rain poured. I cannot physically become more wet than I am... Feel the rain run down my face, get in my eyes, drip off my chin. My shirt clings to my spine, my hair clings to my neck. Jumping in the creek that borders our property could not make me wetter than this. Puddles have formed in this short amount of time; I run to retrieve my arrows; run through puddles through sodden grass that squelches and yields to pressure with each step of my small bare feet. Dry dirt turns to mud and I do not avoid it. I love mud just like I love the rain. As long as I run and shoot arrows, I am warm. Warm and do not care that I am as wet and ugly as a drowned rat right in this moment. The huntress in me will not be satisfied until I can prove to the storm that I can stand up to it and hold my own.
I shoot my arrows for an hour. Sixty minutes in the pouring rain. I am so in love with this moment, yet also wish there was someone next to me shooting their arrows too. The only thing better than shooting in the rain and mud is having company to laugh and yell with you through the whole thing. But for today, I do this alone. A solitary, lonely creature out in weather that no one else wants to endure.
My fingers come close to beginning to bleed. My shots are beginning to become unsteady; I accidentally shoot an arrow that weaves itself through four holes in the livestock fencing. How I did that I will never know... My time is up; the storm has held out longer than me. I pick up my arrows for the last time down in the low part of the pasture. It's hard to look down to see them because then the rain water runs in my eyes. I retrieve all four of them; knowing full well that if I lose one then I have to replace it with two new ones. Such was the deal I made with my younger sister who owns these particular arrows. I do not run back up to the house, but walk slowly. Through the rain, I meander; thinking how I would like to buy hot pink camouflage arrows. Not because I like that color, but because it would make spotting them in the grass so much easier.
I climb back over the fence; careful not to hit the bow on the old, creaky wood that threatens to crack while my muddy, wet feet are still on it. Walk up to the house and realize a sense of satisfaction. Contentment. Quietness. I needed that hour with my arrows... Needed it more than I thought. I turned to go inside and then heard a noise that normally sends a chill of dread through me: Thunder. I looked at the angry sky that was still releasing rain with immense force. Listened to the rumble of thunder die away into ethereal nothingness. And for the first time in my life, I felt no fear. No dread. No anxiety at the thought of more thunder and lightning. All I felt was a contented tiredness after an hour of physical activity; let the storm come, I've already been out in it for sixty minutes.
And with that, I walked inside. Soaked to the bone, dripping wet, mud on my arrows... And I was happy.