Because it rains in the rainforest

The rain splashes its way into my dreams, tapping and plucking at my consciousness as I wake. What sounds like a downpour on our room’s tin roof often fades to a small trickle when we leave the cabina, but today it is heavy enough to keep our umbrellas open on the way to breakfast.

As we eat our eggs and watermelon, we poll other researchers’ opinions on the weather.

“Do you think it will stop?” I ask Mike, who studies the behavior of social birds.

“Of course it will stop,” he says cheerily. “Sometime.”

“I don’t think it will rain all day,” shrugs Megan, who works on spiders. “It doesn’t have that smell of a heavy rain day, you know? How you can just smell it? And the wind isn’t really blowing.”

Sure enough, in the twenty minutes it takes us to finish breakfast, the rain has stopped completely, and there’s even a chunk of blue sky hovering over the river. Feeling triumphant, we head over to the lab and pack our gear. But as we are about to head outside, the rain once again starts falling fairly heavily. Heavy rain means waterlogged soil, which is tricky to walk on and makes taking soil and root samples quite difficult; we put our bags down and try to get some lab work done.

After prepping and weighing collecting jars and putting together plenty of plastic mesh cores, I’ve finished all the useful work I know how to do, and it’s still raining. I can imagine the weather mocking us for being foolish enough to schedule our field work in so tightly that we deeply regret losing a day. But I’d rather think of it as being a kind of tough-love compassion, as if the rain knows just how tired and worn down we’re getting, and is insisting that we take at least a few hours off. With this weather, there’s really nothing else to do.

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