because i grew up in a large north carolina city, summer rain often meant running outside to play, the smell of wet asphalt that so many city folks think of when they think of rain (i still love that smell!!!), and sitting on the porch watching the sheets drops down like buckets poured from the sky.
country rain has come to mean different things to me: different work but also different joy.
in any season in the city, the most that rain really meant to me was: “go roll up your car windows!” or perhaps close your home windows so the rain doesn’t come pushing in sideways through the screen and ruin your window sill.
in the country, rain means even more than that. not just an increased appreciation for the garden getting a drink (in the city i had a garden too and was even then excited about the rain for my plants’ sake), but also more tasks to be completed before the rain arrives, if time allows.
now i check the weather almost religiously and we hope to get home before the rain starts or prepare the night before.
these new tasks that are forever on my mind when i think of winter rain are:
- cover up the firewood. some of our woodpiles are in the middle stages of being processed; they are either stacked in large pieces and ready to be split or they are already split but have not yet been toted to the corn crib to spend a few months drying out of the rain. we cover these piles with sheets of weighted down plastic, but we also uncover them when the forecast calls for sunny skies for a time, to help them dry out quicker. rain coming means hoping to get the piles covered back up before the drying wood gets ruined in an instant!
- uncover the crops. i should be doing more of this, i know. we have a large cold-frame set up over our peas, bok choi, and kale (it turns out its value as a deer deterrent is just as helpful as its value as an insulator). each time when the rain comes we decide whether or not we should uncover the crops for a time.
- open the eaves of the chicken house. our chicken house/tractor is made of an old truck camper and has windows on both sides that can be propped open to vent in the summer or to act as an extra dry space during a rain. this is especially great during cold, winter rains. the chickens also have dry spaces inside or under their house, but most often one of their feed pans hangs out near/under one of the eaves. often, i forget to open the eaves for them, and when i do i always feel guilty! there is something miserable (but also humorous) about the sight of a wet, soggy chicken!
- put the chicken feed pans either under a dry space or inside their house. this chore is related to the previous, but sometimes i remember one and forget the other (how silly of me!). when their food gets wet it is quickly forgotten by them and ends up being a big waste.
- take our sweet, old dog out to pee before the rain starts. sometimes it rains all day, of course, but in the moments we can feel the rain coming we try to take bridey (our 15-year-old, long-haired shepherd mix) out to pee so she can avoid getting soaked in cold winter rain. our other dog, sirius bolt (a 9-month-old lab/boxer mix) likes to act as though we are torturing him when we take him out during the rain, but he is young and short-haired and his fur dries quicker than you can say “you wet and stinky dog, you!”
sometimes we just can’t get everything done before the rain comes in, but sometimes we can. sometimes we forget or even get a little lazy, but that is the way of things, i guess. you do the best you can for yourself and your animals until you feel those rain drops falling on your head. sometimes you stay out in it a little while (since even cold winter rain can be wonderful to feel if you’re wearing the right garb), and sometimes we come racing back inside and immediately start the hot tea kettle.
whether you live in an apartment or on a homestead, some activities are always completed which herald the rain coming. these activities are the rituals of our lives, and though they can be viewed only as chores, i think it would be better to view them as small traditions and memories in the making.
i still have distinct memories about the rain from my childhood… playing in it with friends… watching the rain on the porch with my dad…
and now i have some new distinct memories to add to that list or perhaps the list of my future children… covering the wood… taking the dog out… opening up the chickens’ windows…
what will our children say was on their list of rainy memories…?