I am off and away this week staying at a cabin in the mountains. Every morning of a week like this is kind of like a Saturday at home. Sleep in til 6:00. Coffee and a good book to start the first couple hours. The difference is that after the coffee and book there is no work or project or other obligation screaming for my attention. The whole day holds within it the potential to be like the first couple hours. Except I could never hold that much coffee.
It rained here last evening. It was quite a show. Lightening and thunder enough to get your attention. My wife and I quit whatever we were doing, which was nothing, and went out on the screen porch to listen to the rain and do nothing out there.
Since I am a farmer of sorts and come from a long line of men whose lives were somewhat dependent on rain, I have learned to enjoy the rain immensely. I keep up with the rainfall numbers at the tree farm and have done so since the days of Noah. Some folks in town know that I keep these records and will ask me things like,
“How much rain did we get last night?”
Or, “Seems like we’re drier this year than last.”
Which is not really a question, but a simple comment in search of a comparison. They could look it up on the local TV station website. But, Steve, down at Cook Brothers, throws the comment out there to me because he knows I know what he’s looking for.
“Actually, we’re just a little wetter this year. We’re already at 49.628 inches, about 2” ahead of last year.”
“Hmm. Sho ‘nuff. Never would have guessed that.”
Some folks banter about politics and religion. We banter about the rain.
The rain last night was especially pleasing because down home we have been extremely dry for more than a month with temps hovering around 90 plus into late September. The rain came. The air got cooler. It was like a symphony and laser show all rolled into one that can only be understood as a gift of the Creator. I sat here hoping it might be raining at the farm, but knowing it wasn’t.
“I almost forgot what a good rain sounds like,” I said to my wife.
The pounding on the roof and the dripping through the leaves of the trees during the pauses reminded me of all the times I’ve heard it rain. Which is a lot. When I was about 14, when I knew a storm was brewing up at night, I would head for the loft in the barn. Bust a couple bales of hay. Spread out my sleeping bag and stay the night listening to the rain.
I’ve spent the night under several tin roofs during a good rain. The bunk houses at Camp Thunder, where boy scouts put shaving cream in sleeping bags. The winter cabin at Camp Thunder up on the hill toward the Flint River, where Mr. Hearn enticed a couple of us boys to try one of his cigars. The shelter at the Sportsman’s Club at High Falls State Park, where Dad and I caught a boat load of Bluegill in the springtime. A barn that we found somewhere in southern Ohio after the storm had blown our tents apart.
I was leading a Jr. High backpacking week of camp. And as much as I enjoy a good rain, a week of rain on a hike is not good for the morale. Especially when you have 14 soaking wet kids with soaking wet clothes and soaking wet sleeping bags. The first night I laid down and listened to the wind and rain shake my tent around like a sheet on a clothesline. After 4 nights on the trail we found this barn. I went up to the house and knocked on the door. We did our best to look like drowned puppies with big sad eyes and we got permission to sleep the night in the loft. It rained again, but it was the best sleep we got all week.
The sun is up now. The sky is blue. The leaves are still dripping enough to let you know that the trees are grateful. A fish flops in the waters edge of the pond down the hill in front of the cabin. The golden rays of light through the woodland canopy stir the birds. It’s like the world feels good after a shower.
I know that sometimes rain can be a nuisance. We run from it in our best clothes. My wife will cover her head with whatever she has in her hands to keep her hair from getting wet. We complain when we see that the forecast is going to mess up our plans for the weekend. When the river floods people lose their homes. Hurricanes are horrific. And I get disappointed when the one time I get to a Braves game, it rains.
But last evening was the best porch sitting I’ve done in a long time. Partly because I’m on vacation with no obligations on my plate. Partly because I was sitting next to my favorite person on the face of the planet. Mostly because I just like listening to a good rain.
In the silence I could hear BJ Thomas singing “Raindrops keep falling on my head.” And I was glad that I had a porch roof over mine.