Archive for August, 2012

For a rainy day

Much of the country has been suffering a major drought this summer. I’m only an urban gardener and if feels as though the heat has been out to get me, like it has some personal vendetta against my helpless little cabbage patch. I can only imagine the terror of depending on weather as much as the men and women who grow things for a living do.

But right now, at 4:09 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, a loud, wet, stunning, torrential downpour is washing all over my backyard, and it is glorious.

You know that line in that movie when that guy says to that girl, “you’re awful pretty when you’re angry, little lady”? This storm is so beautiful that I think I might cry. She sounds so mad, and she’s spouting off in all directions, but temper or no, she is gorgeous and I have missed her.

The last few months have made the sky out to be a tight-fisted Scrooge, hanging on to all the moisture up there for his own useless reasons—selfish bastard. But now, this storm in all her dark and dangerous beauty, has busted out of his grasp, flipping him the bird on her way down.

And what a welcome she has received. Some of my younger neighbors were so glad to see her that they whooped and hollered as they ran and splashed their way down our street. (That was at least 20 minutes ago and I haven’t seen them come back yet.) I’m confident that there are farmers close by, whispering sweet nothings to her, and park rangers who are timidly reaching up to touch her, emboldened by the draw of her life-giving flow. And I’m sitting here, at my kitchen table, sniffling like a fool because I haven’t seen my old friend in such a very long time.

Where you been, girl!? It is so good to see you.

It’s funny how the longer you pay attention to this planet, the more it develops a personality. It’s not just a hunk of dirt when you realize how generous it is, pushing food out of itself for you to eat. It’s not just space to build things when you respect that it will move and shake and huff and puff, whether you want it to or not. And the weather no longer remains in the background of your days, occasionally coming to the forefront by inconveniencing you or taking center stage of your small talk.

Instead, the movement of the earth around the sun, and the patters of the sea and moon all converge to take on a leading role. When you depend on all of these hot-headed, unpredictable characters to cooperate with each other, and you have to trust them to not bully the youngsters you’re trying to raise in their little beds out back, you can’t just sit back and watch. You might even find yourself engaging them, reprimanding them, and loving them. They take on personalities, and they have the power to show you things about the world, and about yourself, that you wouldn’t have noticed if you never paid attention.

This might all seem kind of dramatic, and it probably is, but give me a break—I’m writing in an empty house, in the middle of a very dark afternoon, during the first rain storm we’ve had all summer. I’m bound to be a bit over the top.

Dramatization notwithstanding, it’s true that we miss more than we realize in this world. It’s true that we depend on the earth to keep working like it always has, in spite of our actions. It’s even true that if we paid better attention we might find surprising relationships in unlikely places.

It is also true that this storm is gorgeous.