It was midnight, the rain woke me up.
Sometimes it rains hard, other time it slackens a little—like
the beating of drums at a carnival, or the rushing of the
Caribbean ebb tide. In one moment, it’s a herd of antelopes running
atop my roof; in another moment, it’s the horse’s hoof beating
upon a cobbles street—tic tac . . . tic tac. Can this be a summer
storm, considering the fact that the Lunar New Year had just
past a few days ago? Suddenly, I can’t tell which season I am in,
and where on earth I am now.
At the time I left the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, it
was just after a heavy snow storm. The night before, there were
moon and star light. Then in the morning, there was snow
everywhere. The world has changed its make up. The snow
was so quiet, almost mysterious. Every time I watched the street
light while it is snowing I see armies of white moths dancing around the light. It looks as if they have much confusion, yet
there seemed to be order in disorder. The beauty of the snow
pleases the visual senses, whereas the rain catches directly to
your ears. Can snow make a sound? If it can, it must be very
animated. “Winter snow should be heavy so that it could create
sounds like breaking pieces of jades.” An ancient Chinese
Scholar wrote about his bamboo pavilion. I like this kind of
sound of Nature. It can hardly be enjoyed by people of modern
Now the torrential rain has turned into a waterfall flowing
down in total abandon and brining loud echoes. A poem by the
Chinese poet, Wang Wei, “One night’s rain in the mountains,
myriads springs appear on tree tops.” I couldn’t agree more but
now the rain had almost suppressed all other sounds. Before I
went to bed, I heard crickets call, dogs bark, mosquitoes sing
and cars horn, but now, they are all engulfed by the rain. This
rain is so powerful that it ushers in the wind, summons up the
thunder and takes over the sea, rendering whales to suffocate
and dolphins to flee. Finally, the rain abruptly stopped short,
like playing up to the last note of the Hero’s Symphony—a
grand fanfare of silence.
Once more, the rain returns to its drum beating. It wakes
up my memory. Day before yesterday, I arrived at this volcano
island nation, St. Lucia, also known as Helen of the West Indies.
What a beautiful name! Looking eastward, it is the turbulent
Atlantic; gazing westward, there is the gentle Caribbean Sea.
Every day, the sun rises in a fiery way, and sets in silent peace.
Sun rises and sun sets in two different worlds. On this island,
there are also two different traditions: British and French.
During the last century, they’d changed their flags fourteen
times. It is no surprise that some places are named in English
while others in French. Their language is also a mix of these two. The products of this island include St. Lucia parrots,
Calypso music, the twin peak volcano, Pitons, and Napoleon’s
Queen: Josephine. The harbor City of this capital is built along
the hills, and in the city traffic lights are of none existence.
Their forefathers were buried right on the beaches, and in the
port a Love Boat is now anchored. The president of the university
was the former Governor, and the present Prime Minister is
a plain banana farmer. Less than ten years ago, this island
declared independence, and now, they have a perfect democratic
government. People here are industrious and peace loving.
Only the Nobel Prize Winner is the man who received much
blame, for his living abroad and seldom coming back to his
The other night, starting from the airport, it took the taxi a
little over an hour to pass through that winding hilly road.
While in the car, I noticed the undulating landscape and saw
banana plantations here and there. Finally, the car stopped at the
hostel of the capital city. After changing my dress and preparing
to retire, I felt the breeze from the sea caressing gently against
my body, and heard the love calls of the crickets. Arriving from
the snow bound of North America it is like entering into another
world—A strange, yet familiar world. This induced me to think
about another small island half a globe away: Lived there for
thirty some years, had fared much rain and much wind. The
rainy days there seemed over and a puzzling weather has begun.
I also think about my old acquaintances. If any one of them
should suddenly appear at my doorway, I wouldn’t be surprised.
This kind of tropical air, being missed so long, touched my skin,
making it swell. I find it just great! “We are still in the dry season
now,” said my hostess. I replied: “How could I smell some
That night, tired after the long flight, I had a good night sleep. Next morning, I was awakened by the singing birds:
some in long trills, some in short notes, some in duet, and some
in solo. I have missed this kind of natural music for quite long
while, but I must get up now. It was not until my peeping out a
window that I noticed the location of this white hostel. It is
erected on a hill top surrounded by many trees and flowers. The
seashore lies at a short distance, with a stretch of yellow beach.
It was a windy morning. The foams on the top of the waves
looked like a series of white triangular flags. The palm trees
waved their long, supple arms as if calling the puffs of purple
clouds. I smelt the refreshing fragrance from the garden where a
lemon tree was in full blooming. What a wonderful day in the
In the first two days, the weather was magnificent. Now,
tonight, this storm enveloped the whole island without warning.
I can hardly believe it. This is the dry season! The island is so
small. If the wind had been blowing at a different speed, or the
clouds positioned a little sidewise, this island would have missed
the storm. This is merely a coincidence, happened only by
chance, just like my trip to St. Lucia. Is it not true that a man’s
life is always interwoven with things by chance and things by
certainty? The foot prints on the beach yesterday were by
chance; their being washed away by the waves today is by certainty.
The yacht in the port is by chance; the existence of the
harbor itself is by certainty. This storm had occurred by chance;
and the blue sky afterwards is by certainty. My existence is by
chance; the eternity of the universe is by certainty. An old
English poem by Gilbert K. Chesterton says:
Step softly, under snow or rain,
To find the place where men can pray!
This reflects my present mood.