How the Monsoon Rains Came to Taos

A Love Story by Paul Chubbuck

After my big push this past month to get my free downloadable eBook finished (learn more here), I can’t think about any healing topics this week. However, from time immemorial, our ancestors, who had no therapists but did have pain and loss, gathered around the campfire or hearth and told stories…tales that reconnected them to each other, and to our beautiful planet.  The following is such a story. It is timely as the SW United States is in drought right now and Taos, NM is shrouded in thick smoke from the fires at Los Alamos. May the rains come, and soon. For those who may not be so familiar with New Mexico, they really do call the summer rains there monsoons.

A very long time ago the People still spoke the language of Raven and even Rattler listened if a good man said earnestly to him, “Go in peace, Brother Snake, I will not step on thee”.   It was in the Moon-of-the-Big-Wind€¦the one we now call May. And it was in the valley of the Big-River-From-the-North, the valley where Taos Village lies under the Sacred Mountain at the place where the roads from the four directions meet. It was in that moon that there had been no water for the land for many moons, none, in fact, since the Moon-When-The-Limbs-of-the-Trees-Are-Broken-by-Snow.

The cacti, which should have found moisture by then to color the desert, kept their blossoms hidden. Coyote hid midday with Lizard in the shade of a large boulder, his mouth open and panting, dreaming of a big juicy rabbit. Frog buried himself deep in the mud underground. And Raven, who could at least easily fly the several miles to the river for a big drink€¦Raven played with her consort on the back of Grandfather Thunder every afternoon when he came around to visit the valley, she and her consort showing off to each other the flying aerobatics they had been practicing.

It was not that Grandfather Thunder ignored the needs of the People and their land. When the men sat below ground in the Kiva and asked that the corn be watered, Grandfather Thunder heard. When the corn and beans failed to sprout and threatened to miss the whole growing season, leaving the people hungry, Grandfather Thunder noticed. And when Coyote panted on his long trips down the arroyo, hunting for a small wetness to lick, Grandfather nearly wept with compassion.

The trouble was, Grandfather Thunder was having his own difficulties. Each day he would visit the Great Waters of the Far West. There he took his huge bag made from the hide of the Great-Elk-From-The-Other-World, the world where everything is just as big or as small as it needs to be, no more and no less. And Grandfather Thunder would blow on the Great Waters. As great clouds rose from the waters, he gathered them into his hide bag until it was sloshing full of beautiful pure water.

Then with a giant blow, he headed east, with poor parched Taos Valley in mind. However, each time, the coastal range reached up with hungry arms and demanded his water, and he could not refuse them. And when he crossed the Sierras, their jagged peaks hungrily slashed his hide bag, spilling much of what was left on their slopes. Though his bag was not nearly as fat as when he’d started his journey, still, he could hear some sloshing left as he blew past the Great Mountain Lying Down, barely clearing the heights of the place called Abalone Shell Mountain. This sacred place too reached its rugged arms out hungrily for his bag, stealing most of what was left.

When he rolled his huge black hulk into the air above Taos Valley, Grandfather Thunder was ashamed, for his bag no longer sloshed and was merely moist. He squeezed it and wrung it and as he did so, his grunts and groans brought forth great peals of thunder, but only a few streaks of rain. Do you know the word “virga”? That is when rain falls, but does not reach the ground. And when Grandfather Thunder wrung out his empty hide bag, he made virga. You could see that it was beautiful, the way the orange evening sunset swept across the mesas lighting the strands of virga as they fell from the clouds, but no matter how beautiful, virga does not grow corn and the People felt only teased.

Each night Grandfather returned to the Great Waters, sewed up his bag tightly with rawhide, and tried again. But even though he gathered from the Great Waters each day all he could possibly carry, each range and peak along the way greedily demanded a portion as much as they could grab, so that by the time he reached Taos again, his bag was empty.

And by the beginning of the Moon-Of-The-Longest-Days, Grandfather was discouraged. On the night of that day, he sat down to think for a while on an Island, the one we now call Santa Cruz. As luck would have it, Grandmother Moon was full and as she rose up in the eastern sky, she called out to him, “Hey, Grandfather, why do you look so down in the dumps? Anything I can do to help?”

“Oh, thank you for asking, my dear friend. I don’t know how you could help. It is my job to bring the water to Taos, so that the beans and the corn may grow and the cactus may bloom, and the beasts may drink their fill. But for many cycles of your lovely face, I have failed to do that because the dry mountains between here and there slash my bag and steal my water before I can reach that far. I don’t know what to do.”

“Hmmm”, she murmured as she leaned down sympathetically. “Surely there must be a way.” Then she rose up to her fullest height and smiled her brightest face on the the Earth, inspecting it carefully.

After a long time of quietly watching from up there, she said to him, “I have a suggestion, old friend”.

“What’s that, Dear Lady? I have tried everything I know.”

“Load up your bag as full as you can carry. I will light a path for you where there are few mountains. Blow yourself high and I will reach down and lift you a bit over the few high mesas on this path. In this way, though it may be a bit further, I think you can reach Taos with your bag full.”

Grandfather was elated with new hope. Of course he could never see as far as Grandmother Moon could, so to have her help€¦well, what a blessing!

Quickly he blew up a storm over the ocean to top off his bag and then said, “I’m ready, fair lady. Lead the way.”

“First blow yourself to the south as far as a man can walk in 20 days,” she said, “and only then blow east.”

Grandfather Thunder followed Grandmother Moon’s silvery light to the south, and then to the east. Each time he approached high slopes or mesas, Grandmother reached down for his hand, and helped him clear them without scraping his heavy bag on the rocks below. And he liked holding her hand.

With her help, together, they approached Taos Valley while the darkness still covered the desert. Grandfather was so grateful, he turned to her and said, “Oh, thank you so much for your precious help, and for shining your lovely face on me tonight, and for holding my hand. I can’t remember when I’ve had such a wonderful night and such a delightful company.”

Grandfather reached as high as he could and Grandmother Moon stooped down and he kissed her right on her silvery lips. Well, when Grandfather Thunder kisses a lady, let’s just say, it gets her attention. You could even say, it was an electric moment!

Grandmother moon grinned at Grandfather Thunder in that way that women do that makes a man light up and his troubles go away.

And Grandfather Thunder grinned at Grandmother Moon in that way that said, “Are you feeling what I’m feeling?”

And Grandmother Moon grinned back in that way that says, “I thought you’d never ask!”

And Grandfather Thunder tossed his huge bag onto the nearest cloud, kind of temporarily forgetting what he’d come here for, and he started playing and dancing with Grandmother Moon. You’ve seen them do that, I’m sure, the way they play hide’n seek and then they waltz to music that the nearby stars fiddle for them. And each time they turned around one way, Grandfather Thunder kissed her on her shiny cheeks, and each time they turned around the other way, he kissed her on her silvery lips. And she didn’t mind at all.

Now down below, the People were rocked out of bed at early morning by the loudest, most continuous thunder they had heard in a long time, and when they went outside, they saw Grandmother Moon dancing with Grandfather Thunder, and the clouds building bigger and bigger.

Grandfather had been a bit distracted from his job after that first kiss. You know the way a man can get around a beautiful woman, especially when she shines like Grandmother Moon shown that night.  And he had not been careful when he tossed his bag on the nearby cloud. Now it was leaking torrents, which became a great downpour below.

Surely at first the people were thrilled, but soon dismayed, and then worried, for it was already carrying away their bean seeds and soil. Coyote, who was sleeping on the slope of a dry arroyo, awoke to a great rumble, saw a wall of water rushing towards him, took off with a yelp, and barely reached the rim of the gully with his life.

Well, as we have already seen, Grandfather was a bit distracted. But as the great rain continued to rush down, the elders went to their Kiva and all the rest of the people called out in their own ways to Grandfather Thunder to please and quickly “slow down the rain”.

“Oops!”, said Grandfather Thunder as he heard their prayers. He pulled himself away from Grandmother Moon’s silvery arms, righted his upset hide bag, and swept his arms across the sky, recapturing all of the rain which had not yet reached the ground.

“Sorry, Dear Lady”, he called out to her. “May we finish that kissing dance later? Right now I’ve got a job to do.”

“It’s a date”, she said, and sailed off to finish bathing the western regions with her silver glow.

Then with all his usual concentration, Grandfather Thunder spent the next 3 days and nights carefully and slowly making sure that every part of the valley received just the right amount of rain, enough to thoroughly soak the soil and sprout the beans, but not so much as to wash away any more of the precious soil. It was his way of apologizing for his lapse.

And it worked. And for the rest of that summer, as the corn grew through the Moon-of-the-Horse and through the Joyful-Moon, and the all the way to the Moon-When-The-Corn-Is-Taken-In, Grandfather Thunder came with his full bag to Taos Valley whenever it needed it, for now he knew the route, even when Grandmother Moon was in her dark time.

But when his job was done for the season, when the corn was in and the granaries full, when Coyote had eaten of fat juicy Rabbit and Raven could drink from puddles and nibble on the corn left in the field, then Grandfather Thunder met Grandmother Moon on a very high cloud above Taos Valley.

Those who were there say it started with them playing hide-n seek, and then it turned into a kissing waltz. When the Star Fiddlers broke into a swing tune, the lightning started flashing and the thunder rolled across the desert all the way to the top of the Sacred Mountain. And that was just the beginning of the night. From what I’ve heard, the people gathered to watch and before that night was over, Grandfather and Grandmother had kicked up a storm the likes of which the People had not seen before.

But since then, from time to time, even to this day, around the harvest time of year when the moon is full, sometimes a great cloud gathers over the valley. If you lead your dearest sweetie outside and lay down a blanket for the two of you, you can watch Grandfather Thunder and Grandmother Moon dance. If you’re real quiet and you listen real well, you might even hear the distant strains of the kissing waltz.

But then again, you might have other things on your mind.

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Paul Chubbuck is a practicing psychotherapist in Fort Collins, CO, using Somatic Experiencing to help people release trauma, abuse, and loss. He may be reached at 970-493-2958 or through his website at www.releasingthepast.com.

Your comments, questions, and stories are welcome below. I will respond.

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