The storm called Beryl dropped two inches of rain here just last Monday and here it is Friday morning and we’re getting more rain. It was 2003 or 2004 the last time we had rain on a regular basis, not that it raining twice in one week is a drought buster, mind you, but it is nice. It’s nice to leave the windows open and hear the sound of the rain falling in the woods. If you consider the mass that is falling it’s amazing rain doesn’t do more damage than it does, but nature has adjusted for that over millions of years.
I will have to mow more these days but there is a certain Zen quality of pushing a mower back and forth in the yard and trying to figure out which pattern fits the day best. Think of it as a two cycle pebble garden and the mower as a very noisy rake which draws furrows in the yard, only to have nature and time erase them again and again. I’ve stopped mowing the back yard and will start aggressively growing Oak trees, in as much as a person can aggressively grow Oak trees. But the plan is to plant Giants. I want one day for one of my little trees to be a massive structure made of limbs and leaves, towering above the place where my house once stood and where my dogs are buried. No one will remember my name but they will never forget the sight of a giant Live Oak standing on the earth. That’s what I plan to do in a hundred and fifty years or so, after I mow the grass this afternoon.
I can remember pushing the old yellow machine my father had as a mower when I was a kid and I hated mowing grass back then. Of course, my father had a way of making any task more tortuous than it ever had to be, including things that were supposed to be fun. Everything had to be done on time, had to be done to a level of perfect that was unattainable, and it had to be done with as much fuss as possible. I’ve never understood what joy in life someone could possibly have in life with this philosophy, and maybe I just missed the whole point. Maybe getting things done is more important that being happy but I can mow the grass in my yard now and find some sense of peace in it. I rather grow Oaks out there but the one year I tried that my neighbors, thinking my mower had broken down, mowed my front yard for me while I was at work, and I gave up giving up on the front yard.
There was a year, and I think it was 1998, when I didn’t mow once that entire year. It was so dead and brown that year even people in South Georgia had water restrictions for the first time, and of course there were the Lawn People, who would have watered their grass even in a neck deep flood that ignored the restrictions and got tickets they had to pay or fight in court. I remember one old man who said it was illegal to give him a ticket for water the city was already charging him for. It’s difficult for the current generation, or the one before it, to accept that money cannot buy the future.
The woods has a roar in it now as the rain falls harder and there is no other sound but the rumble of thunder. The radar shows the storm moving quickly through South Georgia, and it’s a massive thing if you really think about it. She’s a monster flying through the sky, many thousands of feet thick and high, miles wide, and all the while millions of gallons of water are dropping from her breasts as if Mother Nature were breast feeding the earth. All of this in defiance of gravity, it would seem, so impossible it would be for us to duplicate such a feat. Yet this happens on a daily basis somewhere on earth.
The mutts curl up and sleep during the rain. Sam is restive because of the thunder but he finds a space near my feet and dozes. Lucas is a moose these days, far too massive for his own good and I have to put him on a diet or apply for statehood, one or the other. Strong and happy, Lucas is still puppish in many ways but he will sleep a storm away in peace. The earth is still and quiet during a storm and the dogs rest. Only the song of the little green frog breaks the peace. When I was a little boy I was told these amphibians called the rain into being, but now I understand it is the rain who brings the frogs.
History, both ancient and recent, reveals to us the catastrophic effects upon an ecosystem, even a human ecosystem, where there is a dramatic change in climate. The Mayans may have been pushed towards the edge of extinction due to drought. The American Mid-west was pushed into a mass exodus because of drought and overuse of the land. New Orleans still has not recovered from the last hurricane and it is not ready for another storm of such strength nor will it be soon. We have yet to lose an entire city due to some weather event but that day seems more likely now than ever before. The same gentle rain that drive me to mow grass may also drive a city into the past, with no guarantee that the lessons needed to be learned will be.
It is hard to imagine that world at this moment. The frogs and the rain sooth my spirit to the point I am willing to release the rest of the universe. I am tired and my body aches. There is no work to be done in this weather so I can sit here and listen to Sam snore, and Lucas’ gentle breath. Somewhere out there, an Oak grows silently, waiting for a century to pass, and all of this with it.