In Florida, when it rains, it really rains. For days, sometimes. For twenty four consecutive hours, as in the present case. And by rain, I mean steady, continuous, fill up the ditches then the roads rain.
Photos don’t do it justice. Rain is water, after all, and it goes where it wants to go and fills up everything. Low thunder rumbles, and I am glad it sounds very far away. Last summer, lightning struck one of our biggest trees and killed it. When the thunder gets closer, when I can hear the crack of the lightning, then I get worried, restless, as if there is some escape and I should make for it.
Rain is all encompassing. There is no escape. We are closed in, enveloped, and will soon be overflowing.
The farmer/rancher who has the acreage behind us just yesterday finished plowing up[ the winter grass, harrowing Sandy called it, and laid off rows. I think he means to plant peanuts again. Now that will have to wait.
We will have to wait to get our little acre mowed. We have to wait to haul the week’s trash to the road for pick up by the county truck.
Rain puts a hold on so much. No grocery shopping today. Have to make do. Can’t make it into town on the roads, can’t load and unload groceries in this downpour that never slacks, never stops.
This is the view out of my office window. Sorry about the flash. It rains, then for a while it rains harder, then it goes back to just raining. May I remind everyone that the last time it rained like this, I got the Blazer stuck in my own front yard. (In the country, people drive their trucks across their yards, or anywhere else it suits them.)
The Blazer has four wheel drive. Which I forgot about. And the neighbors towed it out. You know the story. The point is, we had so much rain that the ground couldn’t absorb it all.
I love living in the country. This kind of rumbling, non-stop rain reminds me once again of rain I experienced as a child, watching sheets of it pour down from the eaves, I think that was Hurricane Betsey. We lived in the house out another road from Sweetwater, and there was a salt lick for the cows where we waited for the bus. (I don’t see farmers do that any more. I wonder why?) That house still stands, and the last time I drove by it, was still occupied. I remember the little old lady who lived across the road from us, in a sharecroppers cabin, in the middle of a cow pasture. There was corn planted all around out house.
While we were living in that house, Daddy went fishing and came home with a wash tub full of perch and catfish. He showed me how to scrape off the scales of the little perch, how to cut them open and dig out the insides. I thought it was great fun. I got to play with a knife, and Daddy got his fish scaled, skinned and cleaned pretty fast. There must have been fifty fish in that wash tub. I believe that Daddy did that a lot, tricking me into thinking work was fun. I was only six or seven. The others were too old to fall for it I suppose. I played with little things that Daddy called swim bladders. He popped one for me, and said that’s what keeps fish from sinking. Mama wouldn’t let me eat any of the perch. She said they were too full of bones. She cut fillets off the bigger catfish for us, and we dunked them in Catsup. It was a sure sign of maturity when Mama let me eat a whole catfish by myself. I carefully slid the meat off the bones.
My big brother Jimmy had a dog when we lived in that house, a pitch black hound. I remember somebody ran over him or shot him and Mama flying down the drive to cuss them out magnificently. My older sister Charlotte probably remembers the details better.
There’s a lot of things I want to ask my older sister about, now that Daddy and Mama and Jimmy are gone. I hope she can recall more details than I can.
When we lived on the other side of Sweetwater, in the house that Daddy built, I remember summer thunderstorms so sudden that steam rose from the paved road. It brought some relief from the heat, so grownups gathered on the porch to enjoy it, and the kids, if there was no lightning, were allowed to run around in the yard, splashing and sliding through the puddles, celebrating the rain. Mama caught rainwater, as I’m sure most people did, in tubs placed at the corners of the house. I distinctly remember sliding on bare feet across the grass, soaking wet, but it felt so good.
Mama told me stories, and I never doubted her sincerity when I was growing up. She told some stories over many times, and now I wonder why. Now, I wish I could remember every word of those tales. My Aunt Duck, Mama’s sister, isn’t as much of a story teller, and claims not to remember some of the things Mama told me. That may be true, because she got married and left home when she was very young. Her life and memory got filled up with raising her own kids, I suppose.
The rain has eased up a little. Thunder still rumbles in the distance, so I know more rain is coming, rumbling its way toward us here on our little plot of ground that has helped me remember and enjoy so many simple things from my childhood, like fishing, and dogs, and rain.
The point is the rain, falling down in glassy sheets that made me feel like I was inside a waterfall. I remember both those houses. I remember the salt lick. I remember the old lady. I remember the black dog, and the fish bladders, and scales sticking to my skin. And I remember the rain.