By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
I sat in my living room watching TV a few nights ago when a tiny, brightly colored map of the Rio Grande Valley popped up in one corner of the screen. A marquee beside it spelled out a weather alert that rain would soon be traveling through the area. For the next couple of hours, I’d look expectantly at that tiny little map to see if the bright blob of color that meant rain, far off to the west, had inched any closer to the Laguna Madre, but it hadn’t.
The days have been filled with a heat so stifling that breathing becomes an arduous task of filling your lungs with damp, thick, yet searing air. I can practically feel myself wilt from the humidity as soon I step out the door. In fact, every time I do, my glasses fog up leaving me seeing everything in a muggy blur.
So, I watched that tiny little map with its blob of yellow and red. The red lingered in the westernmost portion of Starr County for what seemed like eons. The weather on the evening news had foretold of strong rain, stiff winds and the potential for hail. Already, areas to our north had seen such weather, and indeed, I saw friends sharing photos of such on Facebook. But, as the hours stretched on, the only indication that a storm system was approaching was that tiny map in the corner of my screen. That tiny, unchanging map.
I’d pretty much tuned out the television as I sat on my couch catching up on some reading, when finally, like a mirage, the TV flickered and one of our local meteorologists came on the air to give a weather update. The storm front was moving. Quickly, he said. Now portions of Hidalgo County were getting their first drops of rain. The sharp edge of the front had softened a bit, though. No longer were there any strong expectations of hail. A little water, some lightning and thunder, sure, but probably nothing that would damage people or property.
Our Valley can seem like a small place most of the time, especially for someone in my profession who has often been required to traverse large swaths of it several times a day. But even our tiny Valley felt like an immense expanse as I watched the meteorologist draw out the front edge of the storm to guesstimate when it would arrive at different points along Highway 83. It would arrive in the Laguna Madre region long past my bedtime, I realized with a bit of sadness.
It was several hours later, that I was awoken by a bright blue flash followed by the low, gentle rumble of thunder. The pitter patter of water striking the window panes above my head made for a pleasant off-tempo sonata.
I love summer rainstorms. And there’s almost nothing quite as soothing as listening to a gentle rainfall while ensconced in the warm cocoon of blankets in the dimness of night. Its long travels across the state of Texas had taken the bite out of this particular storm. By the time it had reached us here along the coast, it was transformed into a gentle rain shower which would provide much needed nourishment to our thirsty land.
I lay there listening to the rain for a few moments longer and didn’t even notice when the rhythm had lulled me back to sleep. The next morning, the air was crisp and cool. The weight of the previous day’s heat had been lifted and the air had been washed clean.
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