With July came the heat. It came in a birthday shower of colored sparks and decided to stick around for a while.
It was there when we picked the sweet cherries. Heavy branches of plump, red, purple, juicy, beautiful goodness hung low over the cherry shaker. The rumble of the shaker thrummed in my ears as I picked through the wooden boxes of cherries; sorting sticks, leaves, bits of bird’s nests, bad cherries, and even a little field mouse uncertain of where this world had landed him out of the cherries. I turned up my Worktunes to try to drown out the noise of the shaker with something more agreeable: music. I followed the shaker down the orchard rows and plucked a deserted cherry or two from the branches to snack on (by the way – don’t let them fool you – the white sweets are better than the darks!) while the sun beat down. My hands and fingernails turned a deeper shade of purple with each box of cherries that I sorted. As we finished shaking the orchard, I couldn’t help but notice that the leaves of the corn in the nearby field were beginning to curl and turn brown – the corn had plenty of heat – but what it really needed was some rain.
But the rain didn’t come.
The July heat was there when the sweets were done and we moved on to the sour cherries. Smaller, rounder, softer, and more of an orange-red, they were shook into tanks of water rather than wooden boxes. I dipped my hands and arms into the cherry-speckled water to ward off the humidity and tried to avoid getting my feet soaked by the water that splashed over the edge of the tank. I decided that if sweet cherries were all about sticky purple hands, then sour cherries were definitely all about soggy wet feet. An occasional pop-up rain cloud didn’t make my quest for dry feet any easier, but it didn’t help the corn either. We checked the rain gauge after each cloud, only to see that the water had barely reached a quarter of an inch. The heat was still winning the battle. The sweat still came in beads on my forehead, the corn still curled, and the sun still turned both of our skins more brown.
But the cherry tanks were full. And the heat had to break soon.
And it did. One Sunday morning, with the close of the cherry season, the rain rolled in. I ran out to the car in my blue shirt-dress raincoat free. If the rain was going to come, I wasn’t going to shut it out – I was going to embrace it. It started to pour as I sat and listened to a sermon from a stuffy church pew. I couldn’t help but look out the window in longing, imagining the feeling of a cool rain on my skin. As we drove home, the windshield wipers waving, a breath of fresh air in our lungs, we passed a corn field. The corn plants opened their curled leaves to the rain and welcomed it with joy. It was a joy that I couldn’t help but share because, in that moment of thankfulness for a break in the heat, for the revival of an important crop, I knew that (despite dark clouds, despite soggy feet, despite rumbles of thunder, despite spoiled outdoor plans), in reality –
A rain shower
kissed by wind
is a pretty thing;
of earth and sky.