2018-01-31 / Editorials

Don Lively


I was in a serious staring contest and I was losing.

My opponent was about ten feet away. I was sitting in my rocker on the north porch and he was sitting on the front of the four-wheeler parked in the yard. I'm not sure what possessed me to attempt to stare him down but it was immediately clear that he had a distinct advantage over me.

He never moved a muscle.

He never breathed.

Never blinked.

He won.

Of course, the fact that "he" was a deer skull that I found in the woods and that he has no eyeballs helped him defeat me.

It was just before sundown and it was raining.

Raining hard.

I was enjoying listening to the rain play its percussionist symphony on the roof and watching the large raindrops beat holes into the loamy soil under the dogwood patch. The dogwoods are, of course, dormant this time of year as was most everything else within my sight line.

The oaks are virtually leafless.

The sweetgums are stagnant.

The deer skull's as dead as a hammer.

The only green thing nearby was my magnolia tree which seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the downpour.

So was I.

I love rain.

I also love darkness.

Apparently, I'm also easily entertained.

I don't really know when I first realized that I love a good, all day rain. It might go back to all the years ago on Daddy's farm when rain was the only thing that kept me out of the fields where we spent all day pulling weeds in the summer and toting stumps in the winter.

There are folks who will tell you that they feel the closest to God when they look up into a clear blue sky that seems to give a glimpse of Heaven somewhere beyond the clouds.

Others feel His presence when they watch the sunrise.

Or the sunset.

For me, it's when it's raining.

Rain just naturally slows us down.

Makes us pay closer attention to what's around us.

Cleanses us.

Perhaps even mellows us out a bit.

A hundred years ago when I was a young high school football player, we used to say that rain, and muddy fields, was a great equalizer, and, to a certain extent it was true. Rain soaks every player. Rain makes grassy fields slippery for both teams. Rain forces changes in game plans and strategies.

Yes, a true equalizer.

It's even Biblical.

"Your Father in Heaven...sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:45.

Sitting there on the porch reminded me of my journey to Scotland several years ago. Before the trip I did a little research to find out when the rainy season there was. As weird as it might seem to some, I wanted to experience the old country the way that I imagined my ancestors did. As it turned out, it rains in Scotland a lot, an average of 250 days a year. So I got my wish. I spent a week there and it was indeed rainy several days during my stay. I saw children playing on playgrounds in drizzling rain. In the hilly countryside farmers were tending their crops and stock in steady mists. The streets of Edinburgh were constantly busy and crowded, albeit with pedestrians having to dodge one another's umbrella ribs.

A half hour after I began my porch repose the sun, already blocked by the clouds, totally disappeared and took the last bit of heat with it. I ducked into the house to put on some wool socks. Then I grabbed my Black Watch tartan wool blanket that I brought back from Glasgow and returned to my perch.

My dog Lucy, AKA LooseE, who up to that point had not budged from her house, eased out, took one look at me, decided she liked her heated abode better than my lap, and went back inside.

About that time it started to rain sho'nuff, as the old timers used to say.

I gave thanks.

You've heard me say it before.

Don't cuss the rain.

In a couple of months we'll be begging for the moisture and the cooler air it brings.

By then the dogwoods will have bloomed and the hardwoods will have greened out to the point where my place is once again hidden from the road.

I guess I better go in.

Lucy doesn't want to play.

The deer skull still hasn't blinked.

And my bed's calling.

I hope it rains all night.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin' At The Dixie Moon, and, South O' Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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