A couple of weeks ago, just after late afternoon rain, I got a text from my friend from across the cove. It was a one-worder.
I rushed from where I was standing, looking out over the gardens, to the front of the house. I could see just a small part of it, but it was enough to have me racing for my camera.
It was huge, and bright… gasp-worthy.
It even brought another, smaller rainbow along with it, perhaps wanting a friendly face nearby (because stage fright).
The sun’s rays set sky and earth and water aglow, so much so that my eyes darted from the rainbow, to the tips of the trees in the distance, to the fiery red of wild blueberry bushes just across the low-tided way. The air was crisp with fall, the ground damp from nature’s most recent spritzing and sprucing.
It is fantastically and wonderfully cliché to recognize the analogy of rain and rainbow – beauty following storm. I have been in love… and deep faith… with this particular notion for most of my life. I am, still.
This too shall pass, and then…
Problem is, sometimes I find myself replacing, “This too shall pass, and then…” to, “This too shall pass, but when?!”
Some folks believe that Faith and Patience go hand in hand, one leading the other.
I can believe with all my heart that ‘this too shall pass’, and still be all fidgety waiting for the ‘this’ to skiddadle.
That being said, Time wished away means everything – the bad and ugly, along with any and all of the good – gets… well… washed away.
Yep, including the lessons.
My lesson (this time):
Depending on where in the state you are thinking/talking/walking about, Maine is stressed from moderate, severe, or extreme drought. And, it just so happens, in this particularly crazy year, I’ve sought refuge in the gardens. Yep, I found a sense of grounding… in the ground.
I’ve sketched out and walked through designs, dug and planted and tended (and coaxed and urged and pleaded) for months on end. And I’ve had the great joy of noticing the beauty of life and color up close and far more personally than in years past, along with the threats to them.
In a more real and present sense, I could see the effects of the light and wind, heat and water (or lack of it) on the trees and plants, along with the creatures who build their homes and raise their families here (dining out in our many respected establishments (we have outdoor service, so it’s pretty safe)).
When days would stretch into a week – and then more days and then weeks – without rain, we paid attention. This went for summer’s hot sunny days, and right into fall’s crisp and cool ones.
Along with the plants, shrubs, and more recently planted ornamental and conifers, I worried about the big old trees as they began to show signs of stress. We weren’t under restrictions, but still wanted to do our part, so watered the gardens only when they really needed it. I also put out clean water each day for the bugs and birds and critters, and made sure the feeders were full of snacks. This included some energy-lifting protein (in the form of dried mealworms) and, of course, sugar water for JoHn’s beloved hummingbirds.
The showers that the rainbow rode in on that day, were the first to arrive in weeks. I happened to be looking out the kitchen window, dappled light dancing on the entry gardens, when the clouds unexpectedly turned on their spigot. With the sun’s backlighting, it would have been easy to confuse the falling water drops for sparks.
Normally headed for the shelter of the trees and burrows when the skies open up, the critters seemed to want to celebrate the life-giving rain as I did. Birds continued to flit about the garden as the chipmunks carried on digging up and reburying their treasures. The feisty red squirrels scurried as the big grey ones – relatively and in contrast – ambled about. I saw more than one butterfly (and far more than one hummingbird) throwing caution to the wind.
And I swear the grass turned greener, the flowers stood up taller, and the creeping thyme started to creep again, right in front of my eyes.
Then, as quickly as it started, the rain stopped.
My friend texted and…
Its beauty was stunning, wonder-inspiring. The rain… This too… had passed… and then...
The rainbow almost stole the show, nearly defined the whole thing.
It wasn’t until later, after the rainbow’s colors had blended into the rest of the sky and I was looking at the photos on my computer, that I realized that – though the rainbow may have felt like the main event of the afternoon – it wasn’t.
It was the encore.
As if to drive its point home, the universe… well… I couldn’t have made up what happened next.
The rain and rainbow – main event and encore – happened again, on the next late afternoon. Pretty much at the exact same time, under the exact same circumstances.
And then – and this was just showing off – the next day it did it again.
When the rain started on the second day, with the same amount of sunshine pushing through the clouds, the photographer in me would normally have darted from here and there for my camera and appropriate lenses. But I didn’t.
I didn’t want to forsake the show for the possibility of the encore.
Instead, I quietly walked from window to window along the back of the house while the sparks drifted earthward. The gardens, again, teamed with flitterers and skitterers.
When the rain suddenly stopped, I made my way to the front of the house and out onto the lawn for another huge, awe-inspiring rainbow.
I was smiling and shaking my head when the shower started on day three.
This time, I found myself paying attention to how the rain made tiny puddles in the garden’s stepping stones and granite walls. Two by two – mourning doves took drinks from them. A loud-mouthed chickadee took a bath. Feisty squirrels argued over whose hanging bird feeder was whose, then lost one of them to a huge blue jay with an attitude that even I might not have tested.
I also noticed how everything – from the smallest elements to the whole big world – was beautiful in similar ways to, and in different ways than, it had been before the skies opened.
I raise my glass to my lesson…
Here’s to the gifts within the storms themselves.
May we recognize them.
May we appreciate them.
And may we never wish them… or wash them… away.
Thanks for readin’.
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