Thursday, December 12, 2013
When the rains came, I turned off every appliance in the house and listened to the storm.
There was no television on at any time, all during the day, and I had shut off the radio as soon as I learned the forecast -- which wasn't accurate anyway. I didn't care. I've had a whole lifetime to accustom myself to the weather predictions and have come to see the wisdom in the New Englander's advice that "If you want to know what the weather is going to be, look out the window. Then wait five minutes and look again."
I'd like to be a meteorologist myself; it's one of the branches of science that intrigues me, because the guesswork and approximations, signs of trends and predicted outcomes almost seem dictated by caprice of the gods or fate. The wind should blow a certain way but suddenly changes course; a storm is coming -- alarm, alarm! -- but fails to materialize. I would like to be in a branch of the world's current idea of religion, namely science, because like faith itself, forecasting the weather, predicting the future, is invariably wrong.
Unless you look out the window, scan the skies and see that for this moment, things are as they are supposed to be, you know nothing more than a Buddhist moment: sunny, humid, rainy, hot. Or in winter, their opposites.
Which is why, when the rain got down to business late last Friday, I was ready after a long week of work -- prepared to let go of the stifling humidity, perched on the edge of hope, and praying for warm clear weather, though that wasn't supposed to arrive until it was time to go back to work again. But for a time, the lightest of winds blew in the big windows that look out into the trees, and the tatters of green leaves surrendered to snapping listlessly and enduring the steady patter of the storm.
I shut down the fans and silenced their relentless whirr.
I threw the handle of the dishwasher to the side, interrupting a cycle of cleaning, and sent the kitchen into silence.
I went upstairs, let the water fill the washing machine tub and then said, "no more," and eliminated the possibility of cleaning clothes, which led inevitably to sloth about sweeping with a vacuum or a broom. I switched off the automatic air conditioning with its hyper-cold freeze, shrugged on a winter wool sweater and dragged my tired feet back downstairs and thought about getting dinner.
And then I got distracted by the percussive storm, the press of it -- no damage, just authoritative movement. I flopped down in an old wing chair that faces the bank of the forest and watched the last light drain from the sky. It was wild and vociferous, the steady rain whispering feverishly across the forest, spattering the backyard with enough moisture to be sustenance for crabgrass or Kentucky blue.
I could not attune my hearing to the noise of the rain, not that it was pelting the cabin or causing structural worry. It was like listening to a softly ruffled surf at sunset, minus the last breaking synchronicity of the waves before they made the shore. My world was upside down, inside out: Interior Maine was for an instant the edge of the sea at Cape Cod, if only in my mind.
And night was falling like a scratchy old Army blanket over the landscape, what little of it I could see with the forest dominating the view on every side.
I am living in trees, I thought for at least the 421st time since I moved to Maine. I don't even see the ground, except in a speeding car, tearing up the miles of back roads to Freeport or Yarmouth or Falmouth. Then I am waved on by the wildflowers or a field full of Canada geese making themselves at home, their big bodies and long necks as indolent as beaver mounds of waving cattails in the wind.
(Continued on page 2)