Rain. Summer rain on Big House’s back porch roof. A good book to read while rain rattled. Big Kitty lying in my lap while I rested. I’d be sweat wet again soon enough, thistling, gardening or haying, but for the moment I was in the dry.
A reenactment last week. No book, because none of my favorite authors have produced lately. I was enjoying the scenery instead. No Big Kitty. She died under a pickup tire when I was young. Scoot, my yearling plus cat took her place. I scratched lightly around her ears and chin as she lay there on my imperfect lap.
“Run fast boy. Fast enough and you’ll split rain drops in half and only get half as wet.” Pap’s admonition when we were out and about the farm, rain rattling on the roof, and he needed me somewhere else for whatever reason. To the shop for some tool, to the house to tell Mom to go ahead and start dinner, to the garden to grab a couple fresh tomatoes. He always sent me with a grin, but still I was the one getting uncomfortably wet. He didn’t seem to mind.
Cousin Jamie Hilbrink and I practically lived along Capon River, summer afternoons when we were young. When not in the hay field we were in the water. A summer storm, a dilemma. Parents said get out of the water during lightning storms. Might get electrocuted. I used to wonder how close the lightning would have to hit to hurt me. Wouldn’t it kill all the fish and crawdads too?
OK, get out of the water but then we were standing/sitting under great trees on Capon’s banks. “Stay out from under big trees where lightning might strike”. We couldn’t go back to the house either. “Don’t be standing alone out in open fields where lightning might strike tallest thing handy.” A gully near “Little Slate Rock Hole” had sandy banks. We’d burrow in, sit there and worry about flood water coming down the gully. Summer swimming could be a worrisome thing.
[private] Hoeing corn, almost to the end of four rows, thunder and lightning coming closer. I could hear rain crossing Baker Mountain, moving through timber between ridge and fields, walking steadily into far ends of corn rows where I worked. I wanted to finish those rows, decided rain would feel good when it hit. It did. I stopped beside a roadside maple where my water jug was shade resting, picked it up, crossed the highway and walked slowly to Big House getting refreshed all the way.
All these memories from years ago, but then again, there was another good one last week.
I’d been mowing pasture thistles with tractor and bush hog in river bottom land below Big House. I eased along upper fence clearing tall matted weeds to make fence maintenance easier. At a gully I decided to back out rather than risk sticking in a muddy mess. Backing carefully (I thought) I hit a stump, bent/tore up part of bush hog’s three point hitch. Bent bad enough to be pretty much unusable and hard to unhitch from tractor.
Doug Anderson’s shop up at head of Sand Field Road was place to go for repairs. Took tractor and machine up there Sunday evening with transportation help of Wicks friends. Mr. Anderson repaired the hitch, straightened a bent radiator mount and declared all ready to go. Bill Wicks hauled me up from Big House to drive tractor home Tuesday evening.
Rain was beginning. Big drops splatting on his pickup windshield as we waited for rain to slow up or stop. It didn’t. Heck with it! Out of the truck, I climbed on, fired tractor up and headed down through Sand Field. Rain roaring down, fans of spray rising up off of big lugged tires beside me, I hammered along full thrumming throttle.
Three men were building a board fence on my left. Couldn’t see who because torrents of water streaming down my glasses. We all waved and smiled as if we had good sense being out in driving rain doing what we were doing. Oh, good Lord it was great.
Past Kerr’s Store and Shell Station more folks watching the crazy old coot brush hogging highway in a rain storm. I made it home OK. Pulled in under the shop Walnut and parked under roof. Receding roof rattle said rain was ending. A change of clothes, refill my pockets with dried paraphernalia and off back to Moorefield. I’ve had fun thoughts and reminisces ever since.