Virga are streaks of rain beneath a cloud, but the rain never reaches the ground. I've also heard it called dry rain. Until this plane flight I'd never seen virga from above. Not much of a cloud above the virga. No wonder the cloud wants its rain back!
I thought I was observing a bevy, bloat, or herd of virga (whatever a bunch of virga is called), perhaps gathering for an evening of safety against the unknown dangers of the night. I remember only seeing one or rarely two at a time.
I've also thought that virga were really one of the bad jokes of the Southwest, a land parched and waiting for water. In a moment of anticipation, the sky promises rain...only to take it back before it could quench any of the thousand thirsts awaiting it.
I recently finished Craig Childs' new book of essays entitled Virga and Bone: Essays from Dry Places. I have enjoyed reading his books, because, like mine, his work is filled with personal experience.
The first essay is about flying through a virga and is well worth the price of the book. He does not have the humor of Edward Abbey but conveys a beauty of description I have rarely read.
Childs’ skill at painting the scenes and his experiences in the desert is engaging, inspiring, and enveloping. I was left thinking that I hope to master my craft of color and form in print as well as he has mastered painting with words.
Several of the latter essays in the book are painfully poignant experiences with social implications. I have read many of Childs' books. These essays are more succinct than his books, bringing a greater density and richness to these brief works.
This current book defines his place in Southwest literature as one of the few who have learned to paint the Southwest in their words with remarkable color and clarity.
Even in the midst of his social commentaries, Childs’ reflections beautifully share the unique experience of one, who has spent an immense amount of time on the land we call the Southwest US.
Because my writings are about a completely subjective experience and journey into art, I find in Craig Childs' writings something of a kinship in what constitutes our art.