The relentless sun beats down on the already dry, cracked ground. The plants that call this desert their home sink their roots deep into the soil, desperately seeking the water that the sun had driven away. A bird lay inside its nest in one of the cacti. It had moved in when the sun wasn’t shining, and water poured from the sky. The bird was unmoving in the nest it had made, wishing for water that had once been so plentiful. A lizard stood in the shade of the same tall, towering cactus. It too seeks refuge in the slightly cooler shade. Many animals hide beneath other suffering plants, seeking shade, but desiring rain and relief from the heat more than anything else. The sun, oblivious to animals and plants, continues to punish the land. For days and days the sun shines, giving the land only short breaks from the heat during the night.

During the night, the animals search for food and water. Desert predators come out to prowl and prey on what they could find. The earth sheds the heat that the sun had forced upon it, keeping the night warm and alive. Compared to the seemingly endless day, however, the night is very short.

Soon the sun comes over the horizon again. Unlike other areas of the world, the animals dread the sight. The lizard darts back into the shade of the cactus, and the bird returns to its nest. Coyotes flee back into their dens; the rodents flee to their burrows in the ground, below where the sun could touch them.

The sun burns again that day, but clouds start to roll in during the afternoon, casting the plants and animals into the shade. The cactus stands up a little taller, and the bird flies out of its nest, twittering constantly. The lizard scurries across the ground, searching for the food that had come out of hiding in the shade of the clouds. Except for the skittering of the small animals on the earth, everything is silent. Then a drop of water falls on the little lizard’s head. The lizard looks into the sky. Might he dare to hope? Another drop hit the ground next to him. The bird feels a drop fall on its feathers. Dots of water appear on the ground. Rain begins to fall harder and harder. Cooing contentedly, the bird returns to its nest. The lizard darts for the water puddles that will disappear with the rain. The soil, absorbing the rest of the rain, turns into soft mud that feels cool under the lizard’s feet. The cactus relaxes, and swells with the plentiful water soaking into the ground. Rocks turn a darker hue from the water. Then a lightning bolt flashes across the sky, illuminating the gray twilight. The rain intensifies, and the lizard finds shelter under a rock, its belly full. The bird, still resting in its nest, falls silent as it drifts off to sleep. Thunder roars, and rain floods the ground. The cactus welcomes the rain, and drinks as much as it can. Roaring thunder and pouring rain silences the desert of all noise but the storm itself. The rain continues to fall throughout the day. The lightning and thunder are backdrops for the pouring rain as it does its job to replenish the desert.

The next morning, the sun rises again to beat down on the desert. However, it finds not a dry and thirsty desert, but a replenished and content one. The ground is soft, and the cacti are slightly larger from the plentiful rain. Desert creatures venture from their homes to find the shrinking water puddles and drink what is left of the rain. The rocks are no longer hot under the lizard’s feet, and the bird feels no heat from inside its nest. The rain has finished its work with the desert, and has given it a treat to last until the next time it comes. Until then, the sun resumes its work. The cycle begins again, as it will for eternity.
10/11/2012