Tag Archive: rain


silence

A little over a year ago, we had our lawn dug up and new sod installed.  The work was completed right before a six-week period of pitifully little rainfall that led to my having to sprinkler the lawn for a couple of hours each night to keep the grass alive long enough to take root.  I was conflicted between guilt for the excessive water use and agony at seeing an expensive investment literally wither before my eyes.

One night, I was too exhausted to stay up to shut off the water, so I turned it off and put the sprinkler on first thing the next morning before the heat of the day would evaporate the water.

As I got ready for work, I noticed that the kids were not underfoot.  This was odd then, but is an even odder occurrence now.  Their sibling rivalry is of a variety that usually starts out well, with the boys playing nicely but boisterously.  It is not long, however, before one of them accidentally gets hurt, believes it to have been intentional, retaliates, and the next thing I know, they’re screaming at each other.

But that morning it was dead quiet, and had been for at least 20 minutes.  Concerned, I went to see what they were up to and found them both in my oldest’s bedroom.

The sprinkler was positioned in the front lawn outside the bedroom window, and the boys would catch a glimpse of the sprinkler as it rose in the air, before it disappeared.  The boys found it so mesmerizing that they had sat at the window for 20 minutes watching the water appear and disappear, all the while quietly whispering to each other about… something impenetrable by adults, I’m sure.

I was touched and snapped a photograph of the moment:

boys at the window

Photo Credit: (c) J. Matthew Lake

Today, I am thankful for the moments of silence that sometimes descend upon our house when the boys are wrapped in one of the many magical moments of childhood, when their imaginations allow something as simple as a sprinkler to become filled with mystery.

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colour

In June, we road tripped to the eastern provinces of Canada.  We weaved our away east across Ontario to Quebec, south from Montreal through the mountains into Vermont, then southeast through New Hampshire and Maine to New Brunswick.

We passed through countless small towns and villages and, for the majority of the New England branch of the trip, the majestic mountain range was a constant companion.  I vividly recall a moment in the drive when a storm had collected over mountains in the distance, desaturating them of colour, while verdant forests awash in sunlight surrounded us.  It was an ominous sight.

In Nova Scotia, we visited Peggy’s Cove, a small fishing community on the southwestern shore of the province.  We arrived shortly after a drizzling rain and the gray clouds were still suspended in the air.  We were visiting outside of tourist season, and I was left with an unshakeable impression that the village was just waking from a long hibernation, still groggy with sleep.  Yet the village itself was anything but muted: everywhere I looked, I was astounded by the vibrant maritime colours — reds, yellows, greens, blues.

Peggy's Cove

Photo Credit: (c) J. Matthew Lake

On Prince Edward Island, I simply could not stop snapping photographs of the rolling farm land, rich in colour from the green of new growth, and the beautiful red soil.  I remarked to Sandra that I felt a strange and insatiable craving for red velvet cake before realizing that it was the soil that was reminding me of the delightfully moist cake.  P.E.I. quite literally looked delicious!

Then, in the final leg of the trip, we drove north through New Brunswick towards Quebec, traveling along the Trans-Canada Highway, which runs adjacent to the Saint John River for a good stretch.  Later, while encouraging a friend to drive rather than fly if visiting the east coast, I described the vista: marbled precambrian rock robed in lichens, and this brilliant sapphire river cutting through the emerald forests.  It was breathtaking.

When I reminisce about the trip, I realize that some of my most pleasurable memories have something to do with colour, and I wonder if the trip would have been as memorable if I had not been able to perceive all the vibrant colours which surrounded me.

Today, I am thankful that I can perceive colour without any deficiency.  When a surprising number of people in the world have some type of colour blindness, I feel very lucky.  I can’t imagine the world without the variety of colour I see.

Does perceiving (or not perceiving) colour fully affect your life and experiences?  Please share your thoughts with me in the Comments.

water

Every year, our family spends a few days at Niagara Falls. The gaudy lights, obnoxious noises, and tourist hoards are anathema, but the wide-eyed expressions on my children’s faces are sufficient motivation for me to swallow my distaste, and viewing the majesty of the Falls makes up for all of it.

Niagara Falls

Photograph of Niagara Falls, 2003

No matter how many times I visit, I am always made breathless by the sheer volume of water plummeting over the falls. It’s unfathomable that Lake Erie hasn’t drained completely.  I am blessed to live in a continent with a substantial bounty of fresh, potable water available for drinking, cooking, bathing, cooling off, washing our cars, sprinklering the grass, watering the vegetable and flowers gardens, washing away the things we don’t want. What isn’t visible above ground is hidden below. I turn on my bathroom faucet and water just pours out like magic. Who gives a second thought to running through the sprinkler or going to the water park to cool off in the hot days of summer?  Who questions filling a backyard pool?  Not one of us gives it a second thought until… the plumbing breaks down, or our water source becomes contaminated, or the municipality issues a water advisory saying we can’t use water the way we are used to using (and maybe abusing) it. Then, for a moment, we stop taking it for granted, but gripe about the inconvenience of its absence.

This blog is not about me climbing up to a pulpit and preaching. I would have no right to do that in any case because I, too, take water for granted. But, today, I am thankful for water, for the abundance of it, the easy availability of it, the deliciousness of it.  Water truly sustains life.

There is a dusty village in Africa where villagers go to the community well to draw buckets of water for basic survival, then carry them home, burdened by the weight.  That well is only available because a missionary group raised money to have it built. This little girl — I’ll name her Arjana — gives water to the few animals her family owns because the chicken needs it to lay the eggs the girl’s family will trade for cabbage or beans or some fabric to make clothes. And, maybe, if there is some water left over, the girl and her family will get a taste.  This village isn’t just one village, but a multitude of villages scattered throughout the world.

The Bible describes the agricultural abundance of Israel by saying that it is a land flowing with milk and honey.  The phrase has come to be associated with paradise, and I am always left with an image of milk and honey filling river beds up to the banks and flowing without end. I am satisfied (and gratified) to live in a land flowing with… water. That is paradise enough for me.

food

I am fortunate to live in a place where fresh food is right around the corner. A produce stand no more than 3 minutes drive from our house sells freshly harvested corn on the cob and, between late spring and early autumn, we drive 10 minutes up the road after work or on the weekend to a U-Pick farm and pick the wide range of seasonal vegetables and fruits they have available. Peas, strawberries, beans, squash, peppers, sweet potato, eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, rhubarb… our plates are swimming in selection and colour, and the produce is fresh and quite simply delicious.  The little bit of extra work associated with picking the produce is more than compensated for by the quality time spent with family and the significant savings. What would cost $50 in the grocery store costs $5 or maybe $10 at the U-Pick.

strawberries

Strawberries we picked at the U-Pick farm up the road. Photo Credit: (c) J. Matthew Lake

On weekends, when we have more time, we might drive to a produce and baked goods stand run by an Amish family who live about 20 minutes away. There, we can buy just about anything, including eggs that are truly farm fresh, or we’ll visit one or more of the several farmers’ markets within a 5 to 30 minute drive of our house. When possible, we’ll buy cheese directly from the dairy that made it, and meat from a local butcher.  In winter, or when we want milk or yogurt or the packaged foods in which we guiltily indulge, the grocery store is available to us. We also have the occasional option of eating out in restaurants when an exhausting day leaves us too fatigued for cooking.  There are vast warehouses of food in major cities not far away, with food shipped in by truck or barge.

Food is all around me and so, too, is the incredible waste associated with my continent.  I know that so many parts of the world face drought and famine, and food is not available; or food is available but poverty makes it inaccessible.  I know that there are people in my own neighbourhood and community who cannot afford food and manage to eat only by the charity of others.

That is why, today, I am thankful for food.  I am thankful for the independent farmers who commit themselves to backbreaking labour to put food on my plate.  And I am thankful for living in a place with temperate climate and a good balance of sun and rain, allowing a variety of delicious fruits and vegetables to grow.  Most of all, I am thankful for being able to afford food.

raindrops

I woke this morning to the sound of raindrops on the window, and the low rumble of thunder from a storm far away.  Zachary crawled into bed with us and, while my wife slept, I played quiet games with him and read him a story, shushing him through wide grins when his giggles became too loud.

There is something calming about rain and — for me — even storms.  The most common reaction is one of dismay when one pulls open the blinds and is met with the sight of wet weather and I, too, have felt this dismay when rain will make an outdoor excursion dreary or cancel it altogether.  But rain is insulating, giving me the feeling that I and my company are the last people on this tilting planet and, for a little while, that lends me a sense of freedom.  Who among us has not enjoyed quality time spent with loved ones under light of candle or flashlight when storms have taken out the power and forced us away from our computer screens and television sets?  And even time spent outside in the rain can be rejuvenating if one only takes care not to fight it. One of my happiest memories from childhood is running outside with friends, catching raindrops on my tongue.

When Zachary was a baby, I remember rocking him back to sleep once after he woke in the middle of the night. Finally, when he was almost asleep, I sat down on the bed with my back against the headboard and sang him quiet lullabies as the final push to the welcoming arms of his dreams. It was raining that night and so I just sat with this tiny child in my arms, absorbing the sound of the pitter-patter on the window panes.  Another night, when I was experiencing more than the usual amount of stress at work and found myself wide awake and my mind racing in the very early hours of the morning, I got up and opened up the word processor on my computer.  In response to the demands of the blinking cursor, I decided to write a list of ten things that “fill me up” and make me feel whole again. The top two items on the list?  Holding a sleeping child, and listening to the rain.

Today, I am thankful for rain.  I am grateful for rain not only in its function of bringing life to the trees and flowers that make my world beautiful and to the food I eat — which one can’t take for granted when so much of the world suffers drought — but also in its function of washing away the grime and dust of daily toil and bringing peace.

In the comments section below, please share with me some of the things you like to do when it rains.

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