It’s the middle of the rainy season on the island country of Papua New Guinea. Pouring rain hits the metal roof and echoes inside the house. My parents are away for a few hours, leaving my two cousins, Laura and David, along with myself alone in the house.
We stare out the door on the back porch. Rain is coming down so quickly it is flooding the gutters causing them to overflow creating a waterfall effect through the frame of the doorway. It’s only a matter of time before the pitter pattering of rain on a tin roof will begin to drive eight and nine year olds stir crazy and the warm water falling from the sky calls them outside.
The water looks irresistible to me. There is nothing that I like more than the feel of warm rain against my skin. After a few minutes of hesitation, I decide to make my move and leave the cozy dryness of the back porch. As I step out the door I am drenched with the cascading water that is overflowing from the gutters. I turn around and motion for my cousins to follow me. A few moments later they follow me out into the rain. We chase each other around the yard; in between guava and banana trees, around the tree house that is built more like a fort on stilts, and finally we end up back at the garden.
The rain is starting to let up. My face is flushed; red hair that hangs half way down my back is damp from the rain and clinging to my face, neck and back. I sigh softly and take a deep breath, relishing in the smell that comes after each new rain.
The garden has become a collecting place for all of the water that came down so fast and furiously from the heavens. The rows between the peas, beans, and other vegetable mounds have been filled, almost to the top with water that had no time or place to sink into the ground yet. I mischievously look at my two cousins. Before they have a chance to react I am splashing muddy water on them. The water comes up to my knees making it easy to reach and easy to splash without needing to bend down to an awkward height. David joins in splashing me back without hesitation. Laura, however, takes off running in the opposite direction trying to escape the muddy madness that is sure to follow.
With only one quick look at David, and not a spoken word, we instantly sprint after Laura trying to catch her and make her join in our fun. We slow to a jog as we approach the pineapple patch. Laura is already heading towards the middle of the patch carefully maneuvering around the prickly leaves attempting to not get scratched. David follows her in while I wait on the outside of the patch trying to judge where she will come out.
Finally, after what seems like hours, Laura reaches the edge of the pineapples. I am waiting for her. She tries briefly to escape but then stops struggling as David makes his exit. We grab her wrists and drag her back to the garden pushing her into the mud once we arrive. Once covered in mud Laura is a more active participant in our little mud fight.
We enjoy the small pleasures of mud squishing underneath our bare feet and between our toes; accompanied with the slurping sound that is made when we pull our feet out. Eventually, instead of just splashing muddy water, actual mud is flung. I have pieces of mud stuck to the side of my face. In retaliation, I grab a handful of mud and grind it into David’s hair.
Suddenly, we hear the sound of tires coming down the gravel road. We look guiltily at each other wondering what is going to happen. We see the Nissan truck, white with red stripes; pull into the carport, carrying my parents. My stomach drops slightly as if the ground has fallen away from beneath my feet. My parents step out of the car and take a look at the scene that is before them. My cousins and I nervously look at each other and then down at the ground not wanting to meet my parents’ eyes. We wait for the scolding to begin.
Instead of scolding and angry voices we hear my parents ask if we had fun while they were gone. Curiosity gets the better of me. I lift my face, brush my hair out of my eyes, and look at them. Angry faces are nowhere to be seen. What I see in front of me are smiling faces, in fact, they look as if they are trying to not laugh! Relief rushing through my body and I feel my spirit start to soar, I realize we are not going to get into trouble.
Once we inside and clean up we peek back out the porch doorway. All of the water that has made our water and mud fight so wonderful has made its way into the ground and out of the garden. It’s hard to believe all of the joy that had taken place moments before but I have a feeling it’s a memory I am going to remember for a very long time.