A Warm Summer Rain

I want to take you into the past, to a real memory of a summer rain.

 

We piled in the back of a pick-up truck, not beat up or old, it was newish, blue, I think, seems my grandfather always chose blue trucks.  They often matched his overalls, that blue denim, crossing his chest, where he always wore a black glasses case, for reading.  We drove off into the dusty fields to the rocky hill, where black berry bushes had voluntarily sprung up.  The morning dew had wet our pants bottoms and shoes, and chiggers had already begun biting and causing us to itch.  I saw a turtle that afternoon, if I remember correctly, eating black berries right underneath me as I picked them up above.  It had that beautiful caramel-brown shell with dots and patterns that they always have, and seeing it right beside me made me feel nice, like it trusted me with its life, like it knew I wasn’t a threat.  I liked that feeling.  

This large tract of land, covered in lush grass for hay in the fields, and lush weeds in the rocky pastures, had once been all trees.  My grandfather had literally walked nearly every square foot of this land, clearing it for fields that would later support his family, and his family’s families unto the third and fourth generations.  It was a beautiful land, like a park, and we walked it too, at a young age, without fear of wild animal attacks, but we did have a few close calls with snakes and wolves.  There was still a little wild left in it.

I remember that as we picked berries, the sky became a pale green, and the light all around us was a pale green, and there was a kind of florescence to it, as if the sun had become a pale green neon light, covered by a fast blanket of moving clouds, not grey, but mostly white and wispy.  All around, the earth had soaked up the morning’s dew, and the breezes became little gusts, picking up and swirling loose silt and sand.  My grandfather noticed the weather changes, and began keeping an eye on the northwest.  But we kept on picking black berries.  My arms were scratched, like I had fought with wild cats, those thorny stems, I swear, sometimes they seemed alive, holding you by the sleeves of your shirt, urging us to stop picking their seeds, which seemed counter-intuitive to me, since it was by our good graces that they remained on the land, while their other briar kin had been bush-hogged, mowed down to nothing, but lone, one strand survivors, a leaf or two, flapping in the breeze like flags of surrender.  Why fight us if we were the ones securing their perpetual existence?  But then again, most of them were here because of birds, not us.  Birds that landed on the twisted, steel wires that stretched tightly from cedar post to cedar post, these were their usual birth place.  Yet again, the fences were what we had put up, without us, they would have had to compete with so many other of their kin, in fact, most of their kin killed them, strangled them, in the fence rows.  It was even rare for the wild, pink roses to survive there.  Somehow, that stranger, honeysuckle, seemed to be the only conqueror of the mighty briars.  Soft on the outside, but as strong as steel on the inside, honeysuckle was also there because of us, brought over to the Americas by gardeners for the delight of the heavenly perfume they created, especially on moon-lit nights when when the fireflies came, passing by the glowing white blooms, with glowing green tails…

My grandfather saw it first, the wave of rain, like a veil of grey smoke, gently strolling over the distant hills, then suddenly, white descended in front of it, as if a fog had covered it over.  We scrambled into the cab of the truck, crowded, breathing heavy.  Thunder came out of nowhere.  We thought of driving off, but Grandfather simply ran the engine, letting the windshield wipers push away the rain.  That rain.  Wow.  After the white cloud came down, and we got in the truck, the rain hit us like a fire-hose.  I had never seen so much rain fall so fast, so thickly, and to this day, I have yet to see the same.  It truly was a wall of water.  The wipers were useless.  All they did was swish hypnotically before us, swish, swish…. swish, swish….. swish, swish…..  And beyond them, just pale green, and water, no, rain, lots and lots of rain. 

Inside that cab, we were at the mercy of the storm, the wind that rocked the truck, the force of the water, the lack of visibility, and the lightning all around us.  Tense.  Yet my grandfather laughed.  He laughed.  I remember smelling that sweet onion he had for lunch, still on his hands, and the tart black berry juice, splotching our fingers like writer’s ink.  My dad sat on the other side of the truck, and he grinned.  I found myself grinning. 

Suddenly, all over, like in a movie.  Sunlight came pouring down, golden, making things stand out again, solid, substantial, no longer two-dimensional things blending into the wall of fog…

But the joy, that came, from deep inside, started on the outside, when I stepped out of the truck, and felt the last drops of that summer rain, and they were… warm.  Not cool, not lukewarm, not warmish, but warm.  A warm summer’s rain had fallen.  Under the golden sunlight, and in the last of the warm, thick drops of summer rain, my mind and heart burst with an aliveness I can not describe.

After the rain, we went home, on red, muddy ruts we called roads. And when we separated the berries, my Grandfather went to his house, and we sat down to watch tv, and out the window, the golden colors turned to blue, then dimmed, as time went on until sunset came, but dark and grey instead of orange and bright. I didn’t know if it would rain again, but I knew that life was full of surprises, and that some of them were very, very good.

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