|Red Bud in full bloom outside my window on a soft day after the rain|
The grass couldn’t be greener, luscious in soft rainfall. Budding leaves unfold in a spectrum of earth tones, ochre to wine.
I open my study window. Sniff, look, listen. Can’t peel my eyes from the Red Bud’s blossoms. How does Nature’s chemistry paint so many shades of pink into one little tree? Nothing like it in the entire world.
The Bradford Pear’s petals gather along the edge of the sidewalk. And look at the Bleeding Hearts below my window! Please, take your time to bloom, I say. Don’t hurry such sweetness of a gentle, spring day.
My senses carry me back to Uncle Mix’s front porch up on the hill in Kentucky, sheets of rain falling upon the verdant mountains of my birthplace. That’s where my cousins taught me to swing and sing, wait out the dousing hours until we could run and play again.
After dinner of a summer, Uncle Herm and Aunt Dean sat on their front porch in the bottom, watched cars go by up on the road and us kids turn cartwheels and run leg races below. When I was grown and married, I’d sit with my aunt and uncle on the back porch of their new house and listen to rain fall upon the woods and Uncle Herm’s gardens. There, I first learned contentment and contemplation.
I’ve come to understand that’s why this land called my name at first sight. The rolling landscape and surrounding woodlands bear those childhood impressions of belonging. This land invites me to rest while I may, admire the beauty of rainfall.
Several years ago during our lavender harvest, I sat under the farm’s pavilion with my friend Martha, bundling lavender as a downpour waned to a sprinkle. A guest sauntered downhill and introduced herself, announced she was celebrating her retirement from the Detroit Public Library.
She inhaled the scented air. “I love a soft day like this. It reminds me of a poem.”
Lo and behold, she recited the verses.
A soft day, thank God!
A wind from the south
With honeyed mouth;
A scent of drenching leaves,
Briar and beech and lime,
White elder-flower and thyme,
And the soaking grass smells sweet,
Crushed by my two bare feet,
While the rain drips,
Drips, drips, drips from the eaves.
A soft day, thank God!
The hills wear a shroud
Of silver cloud;
The web the spider weaves
Is a glittering net;
The woodland path is wet,
And the soaking earth smells sweet
Under my two bare feet,
And the rains drips,
Drips, drips, drips from the leaves.
Dear Reader, Martha cross-stitched the poem for the retired librarian, and a replica for me. Martha passed this time last year, and I’ve lost touch with my farm visitor who loves a poetic, soft day. Yet, I have Winifred Letts’s poem, a gift from both, to praise such a day as this.
I have Martha and Winifred beside me with my cousins, aunt, and Uncle Herm. We contemplate together the timeless colors of a soft day, its honeyed mouth from the south.