Usually I love the rain––I love how it washes everything away, how it makes new buds pop up from the ground, the smell of wet dirt after the first rain of the season––but this year, it’s different. This year, that smell is laced with the smell of smoke. This year, those buds are brown, and this year, nothing feels clean.
4 p.m., August 11, 2017. I step out of the computer lab at my school as Journalism ends, and scroll through the notifications on my phone. The Washington Post is reporting changes in Hurricane Irma as it sweeps through Florida and the Caribbean, new Google Classroom notifications pile up, and I see the text messages. It’s my sister, telling me that in the middle of the day, while the temperature outside is 93o F, it’s raining. Raining. At first I’m happy, excited even. These recent weather patterns are reminiscent of Indian monsoons, where hot rains are a common occurrence that provide a fleeting respite from the usually sticky and humid summer weather. It brings back pleasant memories of sticking out my head out of my grandparents’ apartment window to feel the rain on my face, and of walking precariously yet briskly in the streets of Ahmedabad to avoid the ever-growing puddles of water. But that very fact, that this weather reminds me of Indian monsoons, is exactly the reason why I cannot enjoy it. In California, where mild weather is what we have always experienced, Indian monsoons should not be something we encounter. California, which has only known moderate summers and moderate winters, should not have to issue wind storm warnings and lightning alerts in the middle of September.
At this point, evidence for climate change isn’t hard to find. My own backyard is like a science lab full of plants that can’t grow anymore, of more wild animals and insects finding their way to our house after being pushed out of their own homes, and of pools of what is most likely acid rain, collecting in old flower pots.
On the other side of the world, South Asia is having some of the worst floods in the history of the monsoons. The effects of Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Jose (some of the worst hurricanes to occur in the United States) continue to be felt by communities all around the Gulf of Mexico. More earthquakes are occurring due to oil fracking. Wildfires ravage Yellowstone National Park.
And yet, as I write this at my desk, right outside my window the colors of the sky are slowly changing to a beautiful medley of blue, purple, orange, and red. The few remaining rays of sunlight reflect off the dark clouds to create an image that no painting, picture, or drawing could do justice to. Sitting here, I cannot help but wonder. How is it that our slow destruction can be so beautiful?
Isha Trivedi is a junior at Notre Dame High School in San Jose, and is an editor for the school newspaper. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, traveling and listening to music.