The first rain in Israel-- after months of endless sunny days-- usually arrives in late September. This year it came on Rosh Hashana-- a driving rain that left puddles in the streets. The air smells like wet clay, like cool breath. I opened the sliding doors on the mirpeset of our apartment and let the raindrops flick in onto my boxes of herbs. The first rain feels like a shower at the end of a long camping trip, when your hair is greasy, bits of leaves cling in weird places, and you don't want to know how your armpits smell. It rinses dust out of the air so that we see the radio towers on hills along the border with Lebanon all the way from Haifa, and deposits this dust on cars: brown splats of raindrops cling to our windows after the first drizzle.
It also releases the motor oil and dust and grease from the asphalt on the roads. I bet a lot of olim aren't aware they need to drive carefully during the first rain, no matter how gentle. We scoff at the way Israelis might drive during snow and don't understand that this film of released grime can be just as dangerous. But Israeli drivers crawl along during the first rain-- and if you have ever seen Israelis drive, you know how significant it is when they actually go slowly.
I always get the urge to run outside and frolic during the first rain, but I settled this year for sitting on our balcony, feeling the water against my face, petting my freaked-out cats, and smelling the air.
Let's hope this winter is wet!
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