The lake was normally dry, without a drop of water in it. The lake bed normally looked like bone dry land, the surface broken into irregular shapes, with cracks that went down inches, maybe even feet.
Every August, and September, the rain came, and everything for a thousand square miles flooded. Sometimes it rained for two or three weeks. All day, and all night, the rain fell endlessly. The dry lake bed was the lowest point anywhere. It’s where all the water from the rains went.
The rain had started on August 25th. It was September 3rd, and the rain was still falling. It was time for my annual trek to the lake. A trip I always looked forward to. A trip I’d made for the last ten years.
I took my all-terrain vehicle, my backpack, my tent, and two boxes full of canned fruit, cereal bars, juice, and sardines, packed in the small trailer attached to it, and headed toward the lake.
Of course I got stuck. The path from my home in the middle of nowhere to the lake changed every year. The rains changed the landscape. Boulders moved. New ditches formed. Old ditches got filled in. Soft ground turned to mush, and sucked in anything that touched it.
I lost count of how many times I got stuck. Three, four, five? It didn’t matter. What mattered was getting to the lake to watch what happened when the rains came.
That night, when I reached my campsite, on the highest hill next to the lake bed, hours after the sun had set, I set up my tent, ate sardines, and fruit cocktail, and collapsed into sleep. I knew the next morning I could watch magic on Earth begin to unfold.
I woke as the sun rose. It was time to sit on my hillside, and watch the magic of nature, as I’d watched for ten years.
The lake was shallow, maybe a foot deep at its deepest point. Along the shore, it was more of a puddle. The biggest puddle you could imagine. I watched as the rain kept falling, and water kept flowing from everywhere around, into that lake bed.
That water brought everything with it. Any trees that had died in the heat, and the drought, got washed away by the rain, and carried by the floods the rains made, to the lake. I spotted four new trees that clung desperately to the mud, as they tried not to be washed into the lake. Another couple of days of rain and I knew they’d be floating, and would go where the water carried them.
Such trees dotted the lake bed after the water was gone. They became homes for the animals, mostly mice, and insects, and an occasional snake. It was an annual gift from Nature to the animals that dared to live in the dry desolation that lasted month after endless month, when the rains were gone.
I waited for the flowers and the grasses to start growing. At first they would grow along the edges of the lake. As the lake dried, and shrank, the plants grew in an ever tightening circle, until only a small island of green remained.
Those grasses and flowers brought mating season for the animals. Everything happened at a furious pace. Eggs got laid. Mice got pregnant. For two months, the lake was alive, and that brought everything around it to life.
I waited. I’d wait as long as I needed to, to see the grasses, and the flowers. To watch the mice, the snakes, and the insects, springs to life for that few weeks. I’d take every picture I could. I’d write about everything I saw.
So I could remember, when the lake was gone, and the relentless sun scorched the ground, and turned everything to an endless field of gray dust and dirt, that life never gives up, and would be there once again, the next time the rains came.
Who cares how many words.
Written for Week 265 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. Mirror, mirror on the wall. What can I do with you as a prompt? You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.