Rain, Refresh, Renewal

I’m sure there has been another Arizona winter with this much rain but I don’t remember it.  Our ski resorts are boasting more than 300 inches of snow. The desert is green as I drive through the mountainous area known as the Dreamy Draw. My ocotillo are blooming or doing the rain dance as coined by one Southwestern artist. And I find that it affects me as well. I sleep better. I walk outdoors and smell the creosote fragrance and quickly remember what we love about the desert.

I doubt that we can declare victory over the drought but rain does definitely bring renewal to the desert and frankly, brings renewal to those of us living here as well. On Saturday, when it was pouring, we put on our sweaters, lit a fire and played bananagrams and Sorry!.  Sports practices were cancelled. We couldn’t go hiking as planned. We enjoyed conversation and time as a family.

An email that I sent to a friend this week bounced back with an automated reply indicating that she’d not be checking her email. Her request for a renewal leave had been approved.  I’ve heard about companies that create and or encourage opportunities for employees to take sabbatical. Here locally, Intel offers their management a sabbatical opportunity every five years. There leaders are actually encouraged to spend time away from the office learning something new, traveling, resting, or creating any other personal method of renewal. The theory is that taking time away from the daily grind will actually bring about more creativity and a higher level of productivity when the employee returns.  Universities encourage their faculty to take sabbatical leave with the idea that the faculty will use the leave to tackle projects which, because of their scope, can’t be undertaken in the course of their full-time responsibilities. San Jose State University claims that the leave benefits the University in at least one of the following ways: scholarly, creative, or professional activities.

In Arizona, where approximately 70 percent of water goes towards agriculture, rain is welcome relief. In a busy life split between the demands of a family, work and the community, a sabbatical or at least a vacation isn’t just nice, it’s necessary.

Have you included time for renewal in your annual cycle of events?

Spinach Curry for a Rainy Day
Adapted from Vegetarian Nights by Bonnie Mandoe
Serves six

  • 3.5 cups of peeled, diced potato
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2.5 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 5 tsp. curry powder
  • 3.5 cups diced eggplant
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 lbs. fresh spinach
  • 12 oz. coconut milk (I use TJ’s light)
  • Salt to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
Simmer the potato, salt and 1/2 cup water for 15 minutes until the potato is soft. In a large skillet, heat the oil and butter. Saute the garlic, ginger, onion, cumin, coriander, and curry powder for 1 minute. Add the eggplant and toss until coated with the spice mixture. Add the potato and the second 1/2 cup of water. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes.  Add the spinach and the coconut milk. Heat through. Stir well and add salt and cayenne to taste.  Enjoy
Leave a comment


  1. Sally Mom

     /  March 12, 2010

    Wow. I am making that for dinner. I remember it as a favorite recipe and have the spinach out. I chuckle at the renewel of the desert while I drown in rain and snow tonight! But the daffs are out and the trees in bloom and nothing will stop the spring rebirth. Love the theme. It brings up magic memories.
    Thanks for sending the positive and the future!!!

  2. Meanlittleboy

     /  March 12, 2010

    nice blog!! The reason winter rains are so important, other than what you mentioned is for the wildlife..The quail population will explode this year, if we get one more good rain.

    Back in 1968,1974 were wet yrars as well. It has to do with the El Nino system in the pacific ocean,,,pray for more?? cheers MLB

  3. I made a vegetable curry just last night! And I find it funny/ironic tha the rain makes you love the desert.

    • We have a common scrub brush that releases a wonderful fragrance with moisture. It really is a highlight. Thanks for the beet link. I’m going to make it tonight!

  4. Oh my this sounds DELICIOUS. Bookmarked!

  5. Ev

     /  March 15, 2010

    We can also soon look forward to a desert bursting with colorful blooms…..a carpet of purple, orange, magenta, and the yellows are already here. Can’t wait; let’s enjoy!

  6. Susan

     /  March 16, 2010

    Thanks for the recipe for renewal and dinner! I picked some spinach today that stubbornly wintered over from last September up here in Washington and stirred it into a bean soup. The next batch goes into your curry. Glad to join your blog readers.

    • You are welcome and thanks for reading the blog. I think you’ll enjoy the curry. Even though there are a lot of ingredients, it’s quite simple.

  7. I loved the way you have linked the 3 R’s (Rain, refresh,renewal) ! 🙂

    And well I guess ‘renewal’ depends on how one wishes it to be. For some, it’s change in routine while for some, it’s recomposing one’s own self and change in spirits with change in situations. What do you say?

    Interesting blog =)

    • Thanks Spotless. I think it’s all of the above; breaking routine in order to take inventory of one’s self and one’s spirit.


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