The rain that never came

The heat ushered itself in early this summer, floating in on puffs of dry air and climbing down on sun rays from the sky.  It rested on tree tops and sank into the earth.  It completely made itself at home.

It was summer, so this was right, and things were just as they should be.  Except…

Except the rain never came.  The summer is meant to be a delicate balance between the heat and the rain.  The heat, the rain.  Heat, then rain again.  It is this way that the crops grow.  The summer heat had arrived, but the summer rains…had not.

So the crops waited.  Two weeks…three weeks…four.  The sun-baked earth dried up around their feet.  The crops began to cry out for rain.  The newly-planted cherry trees stretched their roots deeper into the soil, fingers trembling desperately to find water.  If it would not fall from the sky, perhaps it would rise from the ground.  But the ground had been baked in the heat for so long, it had given all that it could give.  The corn plants were also reaching deeply with their roots – and also, finding nothing.  The sun was almost beginning to feel painful.  So the corn curled up inside itself – the stalks became thinner and the leaves more brittle.

Then one night the air grew heavy.  The sky had been a restless gray all day.  The air was so thick it could be felt against the skin and the sky shook with thunder.  The corn turned its drooping leaves upward towards lightning-shorn clouds and thrilled with expectation.  Surely, surely, now the rain would come.

…and it did, pattering quietly down onto the leaves, dripping down their sides like tears of joy.  But then, suddenly, it stopped.  It stopped before the rain ever had a chance to reach the roots.  The plants sighed and bowed their heads, curling back up into themselves.  The rain had played a cruel joke on them.

Two more weeks passed by…July had melted stickily into August, the last real month of summer.  The leaves of the little trees began to turn yellow, and some of them, the least fortunate, gave a final breath and turned brown.  The corn plants in the field were stunted, limbs thin, stalks browning.  Still the heat.  Still the rain that never came.

Until today.  Today I take a walk out in the back hay field and slip into the woods.  The grass is wet from the heavy rain of last night.  Water drips from the trees and slides down bark darkened with rain.  A sparrow rests thoughtfully on the stem of a Queen Anne’s lace, bowing slightly in the breeze.  The corn and the little trees thrill to the damp and drink deeply.  The rain clouds still hang in the sky, subdued but not asleep.  A mist floats down from above, freckling my face and speckling my glasses….

and for this, like the fruit trees, like the corn, like the earth….

I am grateful.