Harvest Soakings

The small heads of lettuce I am harvesting are lit by an eerie, neon-like light when I look up to catch sight of Aunt Terra, dressed in bright blue rain pants, at the bottom of the twisting gravel lane. I call out a greeting and point to the black, brewing storm clouds in the western sky. “The rains are coming!” I say in anticipation as the wind nips at the end of my long-sleeved shirt and Koko cowers, tense and expectant.
 
When the first drops come – dripping here and there, splat, splat, full of foreboding – and a great thunder boom crashes in our ears, everyone rushes from their places in the field to the truck to hurriedly put on their rain gear and boots.  Kazami and I look on enviously, still rooted to our job of harvesting lettuce, for we did not bring down any protection from this unexpected rain.
 
I hope with all my might that the rains will not be heavy and will pass quickly – only to come back later (we need this rain) when it’s so sweltering that the rains would serve as a cooling shower. As I wish this, I feel the giant, loud drops of rain start to pelt down harder. I try to concentrate on cutting and cleaning lettuce, but it proves difficult when my back is being hit, again and again, by freezing drops. I shiver – for it is morning and the sun has not risen over the horizon yet – and goosebumps cover my body.
 
I start to scream as the heavy clouds fully let loose and soak me instantly. I am in the middle of an unplanned, freezing cold shower, unable to turn the water off. Kazami, though he seems unfazed by the cold rain, takes off with the truck to go up to the shed and grab our rain gear. I am trying to keep the rain out of my face so that I can see, bending low to the ground and letting my back side get drenched. My shoes are rapidly sopping up water and my knife is slippery and covered in mud, making the cutting difficult.
 
Suddenly, there is another smash of lightning and thunder – very near – and I hear Daddy shouting above the thrashing of wind and rain for us all to run to the machine shed. So I grab my knife and sprint, rain in my face, splashing through puddles, following Koko’s lead.
 
I am soon joined by Aunt Terra and Val – Val is soaked to the bone, too, and her glasses are all fogged up – and Matt, Mustard and Daddy soon after that. “We’ll wait here until it clears up a bit,” Daddy says and we all nod, bedraggled and dripping. Koko looks smaller with her puffy hair wet down and looks up at us with her big brown eyes, seemingly relieved that we are all safe.
 
I shiver again as Aunt Terra moves closer to the side of the shed to watch “waves and waves” – as she perfectly describes it – of pounding rain as it blows across the field. Rain dumps onto the plastic roof so loudly that it is difficult to hear Daddy say the next command: “Once Kazami returns with the truck grab the ten or so lettuce boxes from the side of the bed and run them to the truck. Then hop on the truck and go up to the shed to wait the rain out up there.”
 
The rain is coming down so hard that I hear the truck before I see it. We ready ourselves, as if for a race, crouching down–until we see the nose of the truck. Then, all at once, we take off. Daddy sprints toward Kazami, waving at him to stop at the foot of the gravel hill so that he will not get stuck in the ever increasing mud, and everyone else shoots toward the boxes. Mustard gets there before me and heaves three boxes up. I decide to carry two – one full of the cilantro Kazami and I harvested, and the other half full of lettuce. Then I am running again, through the mud, blinded by the rain – and when I am halfway to the truck, I go through a puddle and suddenly I am slipping and falling. The boxes crash onto my legs and cilantro bunches and lettuce heads fly up into the air. The next moment I am up again and Matt is beside me, helping me pick up all the veggies – and I am laughing hilariously.
 
I am still giggling as I run – in last place, everyone else is already on the truck – and set the boxes on the back of the truck to then jump on. Kazami backs up and turns the truck around, then hurtles the truck up the wet gravel, and I close my mouth and eyes as water hits my face. I feel as if I am underwater and rain is rushing into my ears, so I keep wiping off my face with my hands, only to get sprayed again and again.
 
 I wish with all my might that we will make it up the steep hill and thankfully, one last push of the gas and we are at the top – roller coaster ride survived. We all heave a sigh of relief and someone says, “This rain will be perfect for all the seeds we planted last night,” and I smile, knowing that this is true.

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