Saturday, June 7, 2014


"Last night the rain spoke to me slowly, saying, what joy to come falling out of the brisk cloud, to be happy again in a new way on the earth!~Mary Oliver

It rained last night, not the kind of insistent rain that quickly creates puddles and fills storm drains but the kind that drowns out other less desirable noises like radios playing too loud in other apartments and tires negotiating asphalt. It was a steady but soft rain that took awhile to drench leaf and branch but that kept singing long after from the eaves and overhangs. The air coming in through the open windows was clean and fresh, the dust having no power over this blessed elixir dripping from clouds that turned day into night a bit sooner than usual.

I went to bed earlier than usual, too, just to lie there and listen to it, to watch the leaves on the shrub outside my window glisten in what bit of light from the street lamps was able to penetrate its density. The long vine growing all summer around it extended its finger and tapped the glass lightly in the breeze, and individual leaves gave a quick start each time a vagrant rain drop fell on them. Even the cat slept more deeply in the knowledge that nothing interesting would be out on such a night, nothing to tease it from its dreams to the windowsill.

The rain suffers much chiding and derision, but really, is there anything to be done about it other than to accept it as the necessary and inevitable thing that it is? For what would any of us or anything be without it? All living things would die of thirst, nothing would grow, and dryness would rule the land. As the years move in on me, I am more and more contentedly resigned to whatever nature finds it important to do, and when is rain not important? It's been a relatively dry and rainless summer, much to the joy of those who insist on spending a predetermined number of days each year lying in the sun or romping on beaches or lake shores. But we are reminded every day of the consequences of going without rain for long periods of time by the sad pictures on the evening news of corn stalks that never stood a chance of producing and the implications of this on our food budgets.

Rain comes from clouds that are the result of water being pulled up through the atmosphere from the earth in an eternal cycle that keeps green things green and living things alive. It gently washes the dust from summer-weary plants and scrubs the very air we breathe. And who among us hasn't experienced the exhilarating and heady sensation of taking in a few deep breaths after a summer shower? Who among us didn't feel the urge, as children, to splash through puddles or toss stones into them to watch the water ripple outward, each tiny wavelet diminishing in intensity before vanishing altogether? And who hasn't held their face up during a spring shower in hopes of catching a raindrop or two on their tongue?

Rain means different things to different people. To some, it means cancelling a planned outdoor event or moving it inconveniently inside. To others, it means turning sump-pumps on and placing buckets under roof leaks. Farmers look constantly to the skies out of concern for their crops and to keep well levels up, while homeowners rejoice at not having to get the garden hose out as often to keep the lawn green. Rain can be a boon or a bane, depending on how we choose to look at it.

It rained again last night, as it has many nights in the past and as it will many more in the future. It was long slow penetrating shower that eased the earth's thirst and lent a note of freshness to the end of another muggy day. It will happen again in the weeks and months to come, and if I have anything to say about it, I will turn in early many more times to listen to its melody and bask in its coolness.

Then, when morning comes, water gems clinging to leaf and web will again split the light to brighten our world, an event which would not be quite as glorious were it not for the rain.

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