Wet road

Fri, 04/15/2016 - 11:00am

Here is a great swath of green lying along the coast all the way from South Carolina to Maine and beyond into Canada. I think statistics, the disproportionate percentage of the population of this nation living within fifty miles of the coast, the idle musings of someone living with exceedingly slow internet, letting the radar images show a single block at a time, completing the grid square by sorry square.

The numbers impacted may not be as great as that first impression; it appears New York City is on the far edge of this rain. 

It is April in New England and it is cold and rainy, but that, like wind in January, is hardly breaking news.

I have no romantic attachment to days such as this one, none. Someone else steals my thoughts and calls it a “beautifully miserable day.” There is in it none of the glory of a wild storm, it is simply dank and drear, perfectly awful.

The winter was mild but the one storm that brought so much ice wrecked havoc on my windshield wipers — easier to blame the weather than the true culprit, my own impatience. The new blades are sitting on the front seat of my car. They have confounded me. It happened before, and eventually I did understand the cryptic instructions, spare diagrams drawn, I am sure, by people who do not need the reference. 

I remember only that it was appallingly simple, as are so many things, once I figured it out.

Our spring feels gone, stolen, but I look out into the yard and see a good sign, no puddle that forms when there is too much water for the earth to absorb. Rain is not pounding on the windows, and in a moment of uncharacteristic optimism I reach for my coat. Autumn perks up, slips out of the chair where she has been most of the day and waits as I open doors, first to the hall, next to the entry. Then I hear the rain on the walk, more than I expected, and pause, still under cover, inside a third, open door.

My big golden dog bounces out onto the walk and stops, waiting for me I think, then I realize she is also monitoring the weather, blinking as raindrops hit her face. There is nothing in easy sight, or sound or scent, no geese or deer, and her enthusiasm quickly wanes. She doesn't even feign regret as she comes back into the entry and waits, again, for me to open doors for her. 

"Do you have a dog door?” people ask and I think “no, my dog has a doorman.”  

We try, again, a bit later when there is more light in the sky and the horizon has made a fuzzy appearance. The rain has abated to a drizzle, the dog is happy to trot down the road, mindless that her feet are getting dirtier with each step. The road is wetter than I anticipated, I do not trust this weather and call her back.

Maybe the third time will be the charm.

Green buds are opening to new green leaves on the briars in the field, the first wave of above the grass green. The front field has not been mowed in a few years but not so many that I cannot see the swale, a band of low land that holds water in the spring, silver with rain that has not yet sunk into the earth. There are, out of sight, the spears of blue flag iris, small, wild, purple flowers that glow in the late day sun, when they are in bloom and the sun is shining.

They are like the Canada geese with their velvet necks and soft brown backs, lovely, elegant creatures I always thought until going to a private preserve somewhere in the depths of the Exeter woods. The owner had made a fair amount of money in fencing, chain link, high and silver, the same that surrounded his little compound of birds, brightly colored, exotic things that made the Canadas dull by comparison.

So it is with the wild swamp iris, vibrant flags of spring, turned pale when their cultivated cousins with their deep velvet petals, bloom.

It is April, month of rain. When there were cows in the neighborhood they liked to wander, to maraud, in the spring. They would clomp up and down the lane behind my house, leaving great holes where their big feet had settled; the ground was so springy with moisture by summer it would be level, again, their passing erased. 

The Mansion burned in April, on a misty night. The ground was soft; it seemed it was years before the deep ruts made by the fire truck, trying to access the Mansion Pond, disappeared. Now, lilacs struggle in the old foundation, reaching for the elusive spring sun.

Finally the rain, in all forms, ended and suddenly Autumn came alive, ready to race across the north lot in pursuit of a deer, or run down the road toward the sound of activity on the corner. The deer she chased, valiantly, until it slipped into the brush, then she came back, her attention quickly taken by the lure of puddles in the road.

These dogs are all the same — my boys, big and brave and handsome and strong, and this princess — they all want to stand in muddy waters and drink from them. “A peck of dirt...” I used to remind one, ever intending look up the specifics of that measurement when I got back to the house. 

Then, the final clouds parted and the sun, low in the west, sent a bath of golden light over the washed land, turning the trim of houses whiter than would be believable in any paint or siding advertisement. It shone on the great white fretwork tower of a crane at the beach when work had ended for the day. 

Tomorrow the sun will shine and, maybe, I will look up “peck.”