The first real rain of the season is falling just outside my open window as I write this. The sky is barely light. When I let the dog out a half-hour ago, it was still wholly dark, and as soon as I opened the door for him, I heard for myself what I’d only suspected as I tossed and turned through the night – the sound of rain. And ...
... the trees singing in it.
After the very long, very dry summer, broken only by a brief shower here and there, it seems to me that the trees must rejoice in the autumn rain. They get a thorough rinsing, a good soaking; all the summer’s dust and rising auto exhaust from the valley that comes to cling, off it all goes. The red-tail hawk’s nest on the snag, which I can only see when the nearer broadleaf trees are bare, is wet, dripping, abandoned until spring.
The sky lightens, and now I see that the air is filled with mist, the treetops shredding clouds. A bird, tough little fellow that he is, sings to the morning in the spent climbing roses. And, as I knew would happen, the rain and the breeze have stripped the sweet gum tree just outside the window of most of its flaming scarlet leaves. For my friend Mike, I’ll have to take a photo of the pool of blood they resemble now, lying at its base.
This chilly stretch of days before the winter solstice, when the light grows shorter and shorter, the nights longer and longer, is my time, my favorite time of the year. Soon, there will be fires in the woodstove – I know, because only yesterday the two cords of almond stovelengths I bought to warm us through the winter arrived, clean and dry and heavy, a huge pile that needs stacking at the bottom of my driveway. It rained because the wood came. It rained because we hadn’t stacked and covered it yet. When we do, and it dries off, there will be fragrant, cozy fires to back up to as winter looms.
The rain crackles now, ebbing away, and a new sound rises up the slope from the base of the evergreens – the sound of water, rushing and boiling down the irrigation district ditch in the crease of the hillside. It’s a soft roar, carrying the detritus of summer away.
The mist thickens into fog, and I smile.