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Category: rain

susurrations: the blessed rinse of a summer morning’s rain

gift of morning rain

it came without throat clearing. no rumble off in the distance. no dark skies, foretelling. in fact, the golden orb of sun was rising through the branches of the pines.

but there it was, just beyond the screen, the back door opened to welcome in the summer morning’s offerings.

a drip. a drop. a plop. another plop, plop, plop.

the susurrations of a summer morning’s rains.

the ping that hit the skylight confirmed it: the heavens had sprung the softest, lulling-est leak.

and all at once, i felt my shoulders sigh. heard a gentle whoof of air bellow out my lips. it felt, once again, as if God almighty had reached long arms through the clouds, applied mighty finger tips to brow, and began to make the little circles on the plane above my eyes, the ones that always, always rinse away the worries.

thank you, i whispered, and whisper still, as the gentle benediction of the summer rain soothes on.

i’d been up early, as i’ve been of late; out from under the sheets once the 5 blinked onto the clock’s face beside my bed. i was fumbling for the coffee beans, had already opened the screen door to let in the morning air and the first dabs of light soaking into the inky dome of waning night.

and that’s when the first plop dropped. and i perked my ears. perked my soul, too. starting feeling not so all alone in the dim light of my kitchen ministrations. i walked to the door, inspected the brick walk, and sure enough, the water spots spread like chicken pox on a baby’s bum.

now, i’m 300-percent certain that my strung-out nerves did not figure into the morning’s celestial weather convocation. no one made a motion to be sure to crank the faucet just above my house, in hopes of dousing the wildfires that threatened to scorch my inner wiring. but there are moments when you discard all reason, and you roll with the whimsy that the rains were meant for you. that someone somehow knew just the meteorological prescription for your morning’s maladies.

so i dodged the raindrops, and wandered out to my summer porch, where the wicker chair offers the best perch for taking in the surround-sound of a morning’s wash. a gentle rumble or two finally did announce that this rain was real, and might linger for awhile.

and instead of worrying about the kid whose mama had called last night to tell me about the whopping case of head critters just discovered at her house and on her kid’s head (a head that had been in close proximity to my own kid’s, just the night before), and instead of worrying about the picture show that might or might not work at my little one’s dance party, and instead of worrying about whether my little guy might collapse into a dead faint as he gets up to chant the Torah (so very terrified is he of this call to the bimah, the Hebrew word for ‘altar’), i sat and soaked up the susurrations of the summer’s rain.

in between the plops, i heard a holy whisper: be not afraid. the heavens surround you, hold you, will not let you wobble.

and then, a final psssst, and this: might not be a bad idea to douse yourself in tea tree oil, the sure combatant for those creepy-crawly things that, at the mere mention of their existence, make your hairs stand on end. 

amen to summer rains, and end-of-august worries, as the school year races toward us, as the long-awaited bar mitzvah is upon us, and our old house fills with beloved people who love us enough to interrupt their regularly scheduled programming to strap on seat belts and fly our way. i figured today might be better than tomorrow, friday, for tap-tapping at the keyboard, and then the rain came and tickled my brain. i’ll be changing sheets, and choreographing airport runs tomorrow morning, and you needn’t listen in on all that noise. next time i type here, one boy will be back to college, and eighth grade will have begun for another. i’ll be home alone, and the to-do list won’t be quite so long. though, just the other side of this bar mitzvah, that blessed book, Slowing Time, promises to demand my attentions.

till then, the only prayer request that matters: dear God, please keep T’s knees from buckling, and may his chanting be heard all the way to new jersey, where his beloved grandpa, who cannot be among the flock who flies here, will be listening with all his blessed heart. 

the blessing of an eeyore day

eeyore day

count me in the company of arthur wellesley, 1st duke of wellington, and eeyore, the donkey with the pinned-on tail. mistake us not for misanthropes of the first order, but rather aficionados of the rainy day. the gloomy day. the day when it seems the heavens have dropped down an afghan the color of soot, and punctuated it with the drippings of a long and leaky pipe.

wellesley, you might recognize, was the fellow who thought to rubberize his war boots, back in the early days of the 19th century — voila, “the wellie.” eeyore, well, hopefully, you know him from the early pages of a.a. milne’s “the house at pooh corner,” the titular house being the one constructed of sticks and twigs to give poor gloomy eeyore a place to cower from whatever poured from high above.

it’s been months and months since anyone around here woke up to the ping-ping-ping of precipitation pouncing against the downspouts. or rat-a-tat, hard upon the windowpanes. and when’s the last time the squawking voice in the radio box spewed the onomatopoeic forecast “drizzle,” all morning long? pureed with fog and mist.

to borrow a line from john hersey’s “hiroshima,” maybe it’s merely an “irresistible atavistic urge to hide under leaves.” or maybe it’s the irish in me, most at home when the thinning between heaven and earth is all a blur, and we face the day cloaked in skein upon skein of sheep sacrifice.

i fear i might have been the little child who, when faced with a crayola super pack of 64 waxen sticks, grabbed straight for the shadowed hues, charcoal gray and periwinkle (colors added in 1949), ignoring altogether the sunnier, carnation pink and aquamarine (both ’49ers, as well).

it’s the depth of texture i find in gray days, in sodden days. there’s something to sink into, to rub up against — even if it waterlogs your socks.

perhaps it’s my fondness for worms, which come out to play when sidewalks slick and water gurgles up from the thawing terrestrial ooze.

but i’ve a hunch it all circles back to page 11, of pooh’s corner, the page on which the world of children’s literature, and generations curled on mama’s and papa’s laps, first met the sad-eyed donkey, in this little exchange that might be the battle cry of the glass-half-full brigade:

“hallo, eeyore,” said christopher robin, as he opened the door and came out. “how are you?

“it’s snowing still,” said eeyore gloomily.

“so it is.”

and freezing.”

“is it?”

“yes,” said eeyore. “however,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

who could not fall hard — and forever — for a four-legged prognosticator who works so hard to find a shard of light amid the endless shadow?

no earthquake lately, indeed. nothing but the silent falling snow. and cold that takes your breath away without a word. so what’s not to delight with the noisy brand of precipitation? the pit-a-pat that lulls you into dreamland, and syncopates your morning’s rhythm?

it’s but a whisper in the world beyond our windows, but it’s one that draws me in, and holds me close. and i consider it a blessing. the blessing of an eeyore day.

short, sweet, simple. more like weather dispatch with a bit of muse. or maybe just excuse to pull an old favorite from the bookshelf. i’m headed out for worm patrol any minute now, that long-held mission to save all squirmy things from dry-docked death. 

when you were little, what color did you grab primarily from the crayon box? and what might that say about your natural-born palette? and in the silly questions department, who was your favorite character from the 100-acre wood? pooh? piglet? christopher robin? or, mine, eeyore? (truth is, i love them each and all.)

the gift of ahhhhh….

the morning around me, at last, is gray. like an old cashmere blanket pulled from a chest, it wraps me.

the dirt in the garden is dark again. puddles pool at the curb. the leaves, nearly every last one of ’em, are beaded, are shimmering, what’s left of the wee-hour rain.

holy respite this morning. as if the whole globe let out a sigh. started to breathe again.

too many days in a row here, even at dawn, it’s been bright white when you awake. the sun, working overtime. as if someone shuffled off to bed, forgot to turn down the thermostat. ol’ sun, just cranked through the night.

when you start out the day dodging the heat, plopping ice in your coffee, mapping your walk to the train by tracing the shadow, sticking close to the side of the street where the shade falls, you know it’s an uphill of a climb.

and now, as with so many sieges, it’s taken a pause. given all of us mortals, or at least the ones who get prickly in heat, a chance to inhale, to shake off the sense we’d entered inferno.

i’ve been holding my breath all week, knowing, trusting, the end would come.

all day yesterday i was tracking the cold front. so much so that the people who type all around me found themselves wholly amused by my weather refrain.

thing is, i grew up with a mama who lived and breathed for that cold front, when the winds took a hook, made a drastic, resuscitating U turn. stopped their unrelenting howl from the south and the west, where, fueled by the desert and infinite dry, dusty plains, they’d reached insufferable digits, and then, without flutter or warning, they’d turn right around, come off the lake, that long lean ever-cool lake that is chicago’s cooling station.

why, my mama would yell, closest thing to a hallelujah i ever heard, “cold front! cold front! open the north windows!”
and we’d all start the cold-front dance, all of her hot little chickadees. we’d bang up the stairs, shove open the double-hung panes on the side of the house nearest the wind-change, then we’d whirl into the yard where we’d stick out our arms, making like bi-wings parked at an airfield, and we’d spin and laugh till the last drop of sweat was absorbed.

then, to polish it off, we might troop back to the kitchen, where we’d plop the last of the frozen kool-aid cubes, the ones poured as bright-colored potion into the clanky old metal ice-cube tray, the ones we had to wait for for hours, the ones that made your tongue and your lips and your chin and your knees (if they dribbled that far) an odd shade of red. a red that wouldn’t go away without scrubbing.

seems me and my brothers just grew up believing in the cold-front refrain. we knew it was coming, sooner or later.
and once it came, all frolic came out.

our house growing up wasn’t necessarily filled with frolic, but that cold off-the-lake air, it made my mama dance. and we leapt right along.

not a bad lesson, when you think about it. knowing full well that the hot air will end. that if you endure it long enough, that sense that someone’s kicking your head, and you’re about to buckle right at the knees, that odd knowing your poor heart is trying so hard to keep ticking, it all up and evaporates.

once the cold front comes. once the winds turn around.

and so it’s been this week. we put up with hell to get here to the reprieve. where gray, and not bright, is a beautiful color.

hey, someone open the windows.

how did you survive the heat siege, which seems to have swept the whole country, ‘cept for marquette michigan where the weathermap tells me, they clocked a measly 78 degrees?
and, speaking of lessons, was there one particular lesson you learned over and over, one drummed in your head when you were a kid, one that comes in handy now that you’re all grown up, and the one now charged with deep understandings of the rhythms of life?

thirsty earth

all night, i listened for the rain. heard the rumblings of the far-off thunder, like growling from the woods. too far off, it musta been. for when i woke, leapt from under sheets, tore to the window, looked down, all i saw was dry. and more dry.

i realized, through the half-slept night, as i tossed and kept an ear to the window, waited for the rumble to turn to roar or crack or even simply the shushing of the rain itself, that it is not unlike, not at all, keeping one ear out for a baby in another room. or a child with fever, down the hall.

we don’t sleep so soundly when we worry about the blessed things whose watch we keep.

and these days, i am keeping watch on parched and thirsty earth. dusty soils, cracked and split and open wide, in hopes, perhaps, of direct infusion from on high.

i am, too, considering the roots, groping, feeling for the soft spots where the water trickles in. because i am out there with a hose, nearly every other morning, pouring sustenance and fluid into all my babies’ throats.

i hear the hydrangea feigning dizziness from lack of drink. i hear the moaning of the phlox. even black-eyed susans, those hardy sun-baked assemblies, are bending under strain, the weight of all the waiting just too much.

oh, i do my best, make like i’m a rain cloud. tut-tut, i cluck, as i wander here and there with snaking hose.

only i’ll never bring what heavens bring. i cannot make rain that’s rich in all the earth demands.

there is no substitute for rain. no wash of all the earth that quite revives what dwells here.

heck, the hose has no sweet perfume. you’ve never heard a little one exclaim, “hey, i smell the hose.” but you do hear that with rain. “smells like rain,” my grandma used to say. so, long ago, i, too, learned the smell of nearly-bursting, misting clouds.

and that heady scent, it’s not been inhaled in these parts for too long now. oh, it’s spit a bit, once or twice, but no real soaking, not enough to soothe what’s parched. heck, i can’t recall the last time i had need to spring my umbrella.

and that’s a sorry thing when one depends on sky to do its job. when one can only hope for a long slow sprinkling to get life back in order, to bathe the rows and rows that dare to bloom, to burst with cock-eyed promise, at the summer’s end.

all this paying attention to what falls upon my so-called crops and the shriveled leaves of trees is but one blessing of the muddy paws that come with my compulsion for the yardsy beds i laid this summer.

all the world becomes so simple when you start each day inspecting the stalks and stems and limp old leaves that got to where they are because you tucked them there.

it is the mantle of the gardener, to be the keeper, the shepherd, the custodian, of your plot of planet earth.

for the most part, the growing things depend on you–and cloud and sun and wind and soil–to tend to all their needs.

oh, yes, the fussy ones need fertilizers. and the spineless ones need stakes and twine and those twisty bits that come on loaves of bread, or bagels from the deli. and, every once in a while, there’s the random beetle that must be whisked away in swift short order.

but mostly, it boils down to basics, pure and simple and straight-up: light and water–in the form of rain or, in a pinch, straight from the hose.

and are those not among the shortlist, Nos. 1 and 3, perhaps, on the Great Creator’s chart of chores, back in the way, way beginning? on the first day, i do believe, dear God flicked the lightswitch; did he not? and then he waited only till day tres for the bit about the seas.

in a world where both essentials come so mindlessly, with the crank of the faucet, or the banging of our fist against the button on the wall–we sometimes lose track of just how breathtaking both are, in fact.

and that is why, besides the simple truth that i love to pluck and tuck a host of stems and nodding heads in bottles all around the house, i consider it religion to grow myself a garden.

it brings me back to what matters deeply on this spinning globe. it centers me amid the daily storms.

and so, i wait for rain. i sit here typing with an open window, and an ear that strains to hear the pitter-patter.

so when it comes, the sacred holy water, i can leap outside, and watch my darlings guzzle down the very cocktail of the swollen summer clouds. the divine elixir, after all.

are you looking out the window, longing for the rains to come? it’s easy not to notice, so easy in this world of pavement, impervious to what is thrust upon it. but when your world is soft, and rooted in fields or beds or simply old cracked terra cotta pots, it all makes all the difference. and at summer’s almost-close, my ears are thirsty, oh so thirsty, for the shushing soothing sound of rain. a lullabye long overdue.