THE LAWSON’S PEAK BOOKS

Rain

The rain was much-needed, long sought-after. We had been watering and watering, but tap water doesn’t do much except keep a plant alive. They don’t flourish on it. Neither do I.

We welcomed the rain, and so did our trees and other plants. My newest trees seemed to brighten even under the dark clouds, perked up and now are setting new growth at last. That’s a good feeling.

I was going to the creek Sunday, but the weather kept me home. I don’t mind fishing in the rain, but I don’t like driving in it for several hours.

In my mind’s eye the creek was dappled with rain drops or frantically dancing in a deluge; no, a downpour is not what I want to fish in, of course, but the beauty of it…ah!

Reminds me when my cousin Jim Ray and I were on Grand Avoille Cove one spring, and a gentle drizzle started up. There was a thin surface film, and every drop caused a bubble the size of a half-dollar to blossom like a dandelion. First a few, then dozens, then literally hundreds, maybe thousands, surrounded us. We had to just stop and watch them, little rainbows captive within each, skewed, resplendent.

That may well have been the last magic I felt on that old lake of mine, and that was years ago. Oh, now and then a brilliant sunset spews dragon fire across the clouds and heavens in saturated oranges, yellows, silvers and blues. At such times I can almost forget that my old lake is dying, grown shallow and thin.

Make no mistake, that was a place of magic in my younger days. I’m one of the fortunate: I didn’t outgrow magic like most adults do, I didn’t begin to doubt it and at the last disdain it. I still believe in magic, as I believe in thunderbirds and the evil-natured spirit Neka sama and I believe in five lights dancing over Peach Coulee, Indians transformed into pure energy.

It’s tough, though. Everything about our lives decries magic. I’m certain you understand I don’t mean hocus-pocus or sorcery. I am talking of the magic in the power and blood of the earth, the magic my grandfather and to some extent my father knew. Such magic is not harnessed or wielded. All the buzzing electrical devices, the concrete and steel, the gypsum and paint shield me from the magic like lead does to radiation.

In the darkened house, rain pattering on the roof like little limpid steel hammers, I set a few more words down on my next memoir, not surprisingly entitled For Want of a River: A Search for Wildness. Now and then I’d carry my laptop to the shop, light a small cigar and write closer to the rain, relishing it, drawing it in through my breath. Bad as I wanted to go to the creek, I knew I shouldn’t and finally made the final choice to call it off.

Lightning? Lightning does frighten me, but it’s just part of the magic, after all. There was a day I fished a little pond nearby and caught a feisty bass of some four pounds while the heavens rumbled threats so fearsome the ground shook and the skies lit up in blue. No, it wasn’t smart, and I likely won’t ever do it again. But sometimes, you just have to go with the magic.

The rain this weekend sometimes came down in heavy quilts, other times like soft kitten-paws on the roof. All of it was delightful and restful. There’s still magic in the rain; I can see it in the new shoots on my red oak trees and my flowering pears. My purple hyacinth bean plants, lackluster since late spring, have pounced skyward and the persimmon trees just glowed.

Rain does that. It does it to green growing things, and it does it for me. I didn’t realize really how nasty tap water was until I got my truck. It’s dark gray, almost black, and when I wash it in the black yard and the rinse dries there’s a whitish film on the paint that makes my stomach queasy. We started filtering our drinking water long ago, and with obvious good reason.

When did we trade our own wells for pumped-in water, and get charged for it? I’m not picking on the water districts, so don’t get all het-up. But why did we do it? Whatever came out of the ground and into the house when I was growing up was far superior. I loved the smell of the big bags of salt my dad bought to treat the water.

It’s raining again, right now, as I write this. I can’t hear it. This building is too thick and maudlin. I can barely see it through the bunker-like windows.

But I know it’s there. I know it has magic. I just can’t get to it right now. Later. There’s always later.

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