By Paula Damon
“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.” – Langston Hughes, American poet, novelist and columnist
Raindrops stream down my glasses, crying foul over my innocent walk around the block, as a flash flood channeling new path to parched places.
Motorists wade along, creating splashy pinwheels on blacktop highways that have transformed into slippery snakes slithering through steamy morning air.
Crushing sounds of creeping and croaking creatures are silenced while they throng for shelter. The sky, heavily hooded with billowy darkening clouds, bows down over sullen meadows, gulches and knolls. A still life emerges out from under a drooping canopy of green ash and cottonwoods, black willows and crimson maples. Uniform hedgerows smile – their once brittle branches glistening as they merrily gulp nature’s gift-drink.
In solidarity, headlights and house lights cut through a suddenly drawn curtain of militant morose this slowly building low front bestows.
My pace quickens at flickering lightning with her table mate thunder trailing behind, thudding loudly and releasing a throaty growl, a lion alarm – instructing everything that has breath to turn tail and run.
Overexerting myself, I try to stay ahead of heaven’s renegade band fixing to let loose. I break into a sweat, which slowly pools under my arms, drips down my neck and beads across my forehead, cooling my hurried limbs and thoroughly dampening my spirit.
Reflective pools of rain, mirroring this sorry gray morning, collect on concrete extending out ahead.
This change in weather reorders my outing from a carefree jaunt, whose pleasant melody had sung the praises of a new day to a rabid race along my old salvation route, quickly leading me back home.
Vulnerability pays me a visit, as I run for cover, recalling similar previous predicaments in which I’ve found myself.
“Head due south to the next blacktop,” my thoughts compulsively remind me I don’t have far to go. “Follow the lane west and continue as it bears north to the seventh house on the left,” I urge. “You’re almost there.”
Flying home, I clip along what was once frayed county-owned cow path meandering through an alfalfa field. Today, it is transformed into a tidily platted concrete city street, dotted with drains and hemmed in by a narrow sidewalk stringing along its parameter.
I spot our old roof tiredly peeking out among newer houses amassed around it. This all-too-familiar route leads me to my front porch with its shed roof hovering like a brooding mother hen nervously protecting her young – she is a proverbial immortal spirit; preening and prepping her young ones for what’s to come.
The years have turned the once pliable place of my youth into a brittle, ancient homestead.
Quietly sheltered by aging deciduous trees, my house is an unwavering portal – a sacred mountain worn by fuzzy memories and bunched worries, unsullied by the storm.
I helped my husband plant those Blue Spruce trees out front. Winter had not begun to clip autumn’s heels yet. In celebratory manner, we dug our spades deep into the still soft earth and planted them in honor of our third child, Nicholas Elliot, whom we were expecting the following summer. They were no more than a foot high, and we watered them good.
That was nearly 30 years ago. Now noble in stature, that sturdy row of towering pines gazes skyward and toasts this ratifying downpour.