We woke up this morning to particularly dark skies and the low, exciting growl of thunder. Having left the windows open all night, in fact all week, to enjoy the lower temperatures, we also woke up to the sweet, clean fragrance of rain.
I don’t know about you, but to me rain mixed with perfectly fresh (thanks to a timer), quite strong coffee is one of the most magnificent aroma combinations in the world. Next to Handsome’s cologne mixed with his sweat, obviously.
Normally by the time we’re releasing chickens and geese from their nighttime pen for breakfast foraging, the sun is pressing above the eastern pasture, sending a kaleidoscope of pink, orange, and gold through the trees. This morning it was stubbornly gray and purple, almost black in places. Very little light was reflecting off of anything, so errant bolts of lightning had the privilege of showing us how low the clouds really were. Only one other time this summer did we see the Oklahoma sky like this.
It has been a long, hot, dry season, certainly one for the record books. But, like all things do, this too is passing. And today I enjoyed every moment.
For the first forty minutes of my work day, even the roosters stayed asleep. The rain was so heavy that all of the large animals found refuge beneath a shelter, lulled back into dreaming by the heavy atmosphere. I had a hard time moving quickly myself, the combination of color, fragrance, and natural music was so intoxicating.
I indulged in a quiet half hour or so of Bible study and reading, caught up on some excellent writing and reflections by friends, and polished off the morning coffee. I noticed by then that the cold rain was still falling consistently, but the light outside was changing. Roosters finally began crowing, oblivious to how far past dawn they were, and the buffalo answered with his rib-rattling baritone chuffs. Then one by one the horses joined the chorus, and within minutes the farm was wide awake. The geese were screaming, honking for freedom. The crows reminded me to decorate for autumn. The cats were mewing at the kitchen door, making themselves skinny beneath the eaves to stay as dry as possible.
Anytime the scenery of life changes so dramatically, especially if I know it is a temporary change, I feel a deep seated urgency to do something different myself. To soak up the details of the day and expend my energy in a way that is equally special. It always feels like a built in holiday, an invitation from the universe to indulge in a departure from routine and refresh myself.
So today I stripped the curtains off of our windows and washed them. I scrubbed the windows, walls, artwork, and moldings, with that lusciously scented Murphy’s soap oil, and traded summer’s green ivy and sea shells for gourds, acorns, and pine cones. I realize I am way behind the curve on this stuff, ladies, but I had a hard time doing anything fallish while still wearing shorts and tank tops to work outside. Today was perfect for the switch. Today was the first day I reached for a sweatshirt to feed and hay the animals. And it felt divine.
The rain had rinsed the wild sunflowers free of ants, so after feeding was done I cut a bouquet for indoors and narrowly escaped attack from a thick, fuzzy bumble bee. Why he wanted to land on the flower I had just cut when upwards of three hundred were still available, unprotected, is beyond me. But everything worked out alright.
Mid morning, the horses celebrated the shift in weather in their standard fashion, by stampeding. Daphne started it, as is usual. She is the only mare here and pretty much sets the tone for the boys’ lives, including Chunk-Hi the buffalo. She dug down low to the ground, ran and kicked and bucked, splashing through the wet pasture and splattering mud all over her velvety black underbelly. Then Chanta, her field mate, started running, and he really puts on a show. He can kick higher and with more power than any horse I have ever seen. And he has a way of looking like the happiest creature alive while he does it. The front fielders, Dusty and Chunk, ran too, though with a little less urgency because they were fairly enrapt with the show being put on across the gravel driveway.
The commotion sent the geese fly-running in a panic down to the pond, and Clark the turkey sort of hopped away into the barn. He needed the shelter anyway. Sometimes he forgets how to navigate three-wire fences, and the rain was making things extra difficult for him this morning. Better he hangs out with the cats.
After the unusual morning,
Mia was even more affectionate than normal.
I did not know this was possible.
Speaking of the pond, this hours-long downpour has already made a visible difference there. We are still several feet low, of course, and will be for a long time if the dry forecast is correct, but today we are grateful. The runoff is watering the middle field for us, and the pond is not only higher but prettier. The dead algae is dispersing and clearing up already.
And a dry but cool forecast is better than a dry and blazing hot forecast, so we’ll continue to count our blessings. Maybe we’ll get enough precipitation for our own pastures to lush up a bit and for nearby farmers to cut hay once more before winter. That would be a blessing to every variety of household in Oklahoma.
How likely is it that today’s rain brought with it a dose of optimism? Or is the word faith? Maybe that is just the anatomy of relief, that what plagued us so heavily a moment ago, in this case the heat and the extreme dryness of everything, is suddenly and gently washed away. The world as we knew it yesterday is no longer how we see it today, and our tense, worrying muscles can begin to relax.
Maybe this is a sign of good things to come.