It is my birthday and it is raining, which is a fine thing. I moved to Colorado 14 years ago, not knowing that it does not rain on the Front Range between October and April. Not a drop. One year it rained for 10 minutes in February and people got out of their cars and looked at the sky and then checked the calendars on their iWatches.
When Cathy began teaching here, she got a blank stare from her third graders when she said, “April showers bring May flowers.” They thought she might be slightly deranged. I mean, her New York accent had already thrown them off. “Wait, Mrs. Williams, how do you eat an ahrange? What is an ahrange? And there are no April showers. There are April snowstorms.”
Two weeks ago it snowed 24 inches. I had to use my industrial sized Mac truck of a snowblower, the one that warms the earth two degrees every time you fire it up. Then lo and behold, just 15 days later I pulled out my Honda lawnmower to give my lawn its first cut of the season. For the 12th straight year, it started on the first pull. (That’s why you pay twice as much for a Honda.)
I needed the lawnmower not because of April showers, but because 24 inches of wet melting snow wakes up a sleeping lawn. When I mowed the lawn yesterday, the lawn had no idea the coronavirus was going on. It was yawning and wiping the dandelions from its eyes and grateful for the haircut. It didn’t hear me muttering under my breath, “Yeah, you get a haircut, while my hair looks like I’ve been manning a remote outpost on a Pacific atoll since WWII.”
But back to this morning’s rain. Colorado gets 300 days of sunshine a year. And when I say sunshine, I don’t mean like Dublin, where they say, “Did you see that? Over there? The clouds parted for five seconds. It was glorious!” No, in Colorado we see the sun all day, 300 days a year. When the rains finally arrive in May, we rush outside and watch the foothills turn green before our eyes. The prairie grasses get all happy and prairie dogs run around the fields hanging from lampposts, holding their little umbrellas. It’s really cute.
You can’t see the mountains, but you know they are there because of those 300 days when you see them reaching out to touch the sky. So, when the rains come, you take comfort in the mountains and their unseen stability. Today is one of those days when I need that unseen stability.
The fox showed up in the backyard this morning, the red one. He drank from my water feature because the water is fresh for a change, instead of the recirculated stale stuff that’s usually there. He looked up longingly at the doves on the birdfeeder, then stared through the window as if to say, “You know, you could have put that birdfeeder closer to the ground. Just sayin…” Ever since we’ve all been quarantined, the fox talks to me a lot. He’s lonely too. Just the other day he was telling me about being chased by a mountain lion the night before. I did not have much sympathy. I said, “Well, now you know how the chickens feel.” But I digress.
Today’s rain is misty, the kind I liked to run in when I lived on the south shore of Long Island. It feels good on your face and breeds contentment in your bones. Unlike a cold, hard rain, the mist quenches your soul’s thirst for all that is close in and nurturing and good. These are hard times, with attacks coming from unseen forces, like viruses. You protect yourself and trust in the truth of things. You pull in and wrap yourself in a wool sweater and let the cool mist fill your lungs and pretend you are back in Dublin in an earlier time, before viruses and losses and such.
The doves left the birdfeeder and the robins returned, and I went out in the mist to refill the feeders and take a quick picture of the misty view to the southwest where the hidden mountains beckon. When I got back in the house a Lazuli Bunting was eating at the feeder. No, I’m not a birdwatcher. I know exactly two Colorado bird species by name. Mr. and Mrs. Bunting are here all the time, along with the Tanager family. They all seem to get along well. I think they vacation together.
Then I came back inside for my second cup of tea. I’m drinking from the blue Cath Kidston mug a kind person sent me after my first one shattered on the kitchen floor. The broken one is carefully gathered on a dinner plate that sits on my bedroom dresser. I was going to glue it back together, but I actually prefer it sitting there broken into a thousand tiny pieces. It reminds me you can be shattered and still be a thing of beauty.
I am going to go out running in a while, but I want the mist to be just right, Long Island consistency, drops large enough to kiss your face but not cause you to inhale any viruses. Because, well, you know.
And so it goes.