There’s something I love about these isolated summer storms, the way they form up seemingly from nowhere and with very little warning. Not the kind that come stomping in all full of fury and destruction, flattening fields of ripening wheat and bending waist-high corn stalks over to a low lean. I’m not talking about the kind that ruin crops and tear branches out of trees and send pieces of metal roofing flying off across the fields.
I’m talking about the kind that show up with just a low rumble or two that makes you look up all of a sudden from mowing the yard or maybe sweeping off the patio or maybe even from fastening in a few pieces of soffit on the eaves of the garden shed you built last year. The last you remember about the sky was that it was partly cloudy but mostly sunny and it’s actually kind of hot, especially out away from the shade. And maybe, especially if you were running a mower or a tractor or a circular saw, you weren’t sure that you even heard that first bit of thunder. Something, though, made you look up at the sky, maybe toward the south or southwest and all at once you see that dark heaviness that says “rain” at least and maybe more than that.
And then comes that second clap of thunder and you aren’t wondering anymore whether that was what you heard. You start gathering up your tools and you feel the first stirrings of a cool wind. And you look back again out across the fields and you can see it coming already on the ridge, those gray slants too thin, too low and too vertical to be clouds and you know it’s raining just off there a ways. You step a little faster and get everything inside the shed and close the door and by now, you can see the rain moving across the pasture, hear the wind shuffling the branches of the birches and maples.
Then, just as you’re heading toward the house, the first fat drops hit the hot concrete and you almost think you can hear them sizzling. By the time you reach the back door, it’s gone from sprinkle to shower and coming a little harder and you can hear the rain hitting the car. Just as you step inside, or maybe just before, it turns loose and the rain falls hard and heavy. You can hear the drumming, and you stand near the window for a while, listening to the ebb and flow as it slacks and surges, and you can see the seams of heavier rain. And then, in maybe twenty minutes or an hour or a bit more, it’s over.
The cloud passes and you can still see the tells of rain as it moves on across the fields and hills. An hour later, except for the damp in the dirt and the drip from where the gutter doesn’t quite reach the end of the eave, you’re not even sure it rained.
The sky is so clear and the air feels so fresh and you wonder if you just imagined it, like the feeling that comes over you when you’re pretty sure you’ve just encountered God and no one else could even see it. You can almost convince yourself that maybe it was just imagination but the grass is still wet and there’s that tiny telltale puddle in the big flat rock by the patio. And you know, even if no one else was there to see it: you’ve been blessed by rain.
You sure don’t want to brag about it but you’re awfully grateful and it’s really not your fault at all if your neighbor’s yard is as dry as a bone.