But I wanted to tell you about today, and why this grey soggy day feels so symbolically hopeful. South of the flat bit of plains that make up Christchurch's CBD the land suddenly erupts (pun intended) into a series of rugged hills. On Sunday we enjoyed a gorgeous day in the area with some friends from my Italian group. The sun-soaked mountains and harbor made up as idyllic a view as anyone could ask for.
Literally the next day, a fire broke out there that pushed the city into a state of emergency. Transportation was delayed, there were (admittedly brief) power outages, and around 400 homes had to be evacuated. On Wednesday I could see the gigantic smoke cloud from my bedroom window, and standing outside the central bus terminal in the CBD it took up most of the sky. So far, eleven families have lost their homes. Thankfully most people are OK, and are starting to be allowed back into their houses. Short of a few small inconveniences over the week, our neighborhood remains untouched and totally safe. It's a strange reality to be in--to be able to see the effects of this disaster at a distance; to feel connected to it yet separate from it. It's a bit akin to the feeling we get from the news at home. We see it. We know we're linked. Yet, it has a tinge of the surreal. Like the last moments of a dream before waking.
Anyway, while it could be argued that the rain is actually more of nuisance to the firefighters, it definitely slows the advance. That paired with the fact that things were already calming down kind of imbues the wet weather with a sense of much-needed optimism and relief. I know I'm not the only one. Outside a local restaurant where the street board usually invites you in to try their pasta, it just said: Christchurch has never been happier to see rain. Maybe that's naive given the problems it also presents, but I'm holding onto the feeling for now. Cheers to rain.