Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Racing the Rain - Age 19

As most readers here know, I grew up on a farm in Eastern Nebraska. I was the only daughter and had two brothers. Thus, I learned to entertain myself - it was the only choice I had. As I became a teenager, I enjoyed running on my farm and on the gravel roads that made up the section around our farm. In my college creative writing class, I used that subject for a piece. To read it now, it feels as if I am struggling to reach a minimum word limit so I apologize for the repetition and age-related naivety. I've included a couple of photos from my farm. The first one is from my childhood, the second and third are quite recent.


Bingo waits impatiently with his nose pressed against the front door as he watches me zip up Dad’s big bright blue sweat shirt. Though it is August, the hottest month of Nebraska weather, I put the jacket on to insulate me from the cool, wet drizzle. I roll up the legs of my jeans to a comfortable point below the knee and purposefully neglect to put my shoes on.

As I step outside, Bingo’s big fluffy plume of a tail wags and his roly-poly body bounces with the sheer delight only a dog can display so sincerely. He knows that when I change clothes and come outside at this time of the day, we are going for a jog.

My nostrils can’t inhale enough of the fresh rain air. The distant sky is a deep blue color, a color that predicts more rain is coming. Overhead are irregular gray clouds, constantly churning and hurriedly moving eastward across the sky. The atmosphere enchants me. What is it that feels so good about air during or after a rain?

Bingo and I journey across our farm place past the machine shed and old horse barn.

This is the first time in my nineteen years that I have done my run barefoot on this wetted soft, rich, brown earth. The mud conforms around my feet like putty and oozes comfortably between my toes. I turn around, amused to see the primitive looking tracks that follow me. I set my pace at a lazy jog while Bingo runs wildly ahead of me.

Cattle gallop toward us as we follow the dirt tractor path next to the feed lots. I wonder, as I have many times before, whether the fence with three strands of barbed wire will stop them, but, as always, they stop in time and gaze curiously at us, perhaps with envy.

We go up the hill past Dad’s bee boxes and our old little orchard planted by my grandparents, still following the tractor trail. Fields of corn and alfalfa lie to the left and right of us. I’m in a state of ecstasy, feeling as free as a wild deer. It is as if I, too, am a part of Nature. The drops of rain gently brush my face. My jacket, jeans, and feet are getting wetter as we reach the hilltop. I delight in hearing the gentle splatters of raindrops as they softly touch each living thing around me.

Ordinarily there would be three daylight hours left, but tonight the sun’s absence causes the world about me to be gray and hazy. It has been raining since early morning, but little water has puddled because the earth is drinking thirstily. Cracks in the ground that had formed as the moisture evaporated, are now soaking up this welcome rain. The corn is raising its long, slender leaves towards the sky in thanks. Experiencing this cooling rain during a Nebraska August is welcome. I'm glad to be out here in it rather than seeing it through an indoor window.

I challenge myself to keep going until I reach the little creek flowing through our pasture, my favorite spot on our farm. Even the sticks of alfalfa have become soft from the rain and feel comfortable underneath my bare feet.

Our only pause is to inspect a gopher hole discovered by Bingo. After running the length of the alfalfa field, we run crosswise through the cornfield, the last barrier between us and the creek. The corn rises a generous two feet above my head. I zig zag between the rows, trying to find the largest spaces between the stalks. The wet corn completely soaks my clothes. I feel like a wild animal at the mercy of Nature.

We finally get through this field and I roll under the fence into the pasture and help Bingo crawl under the wire. The creek is only a few steps away. I stand for a short while watching the shallow water trickle downstream from my favorite spot along the creek. Along the bank grows a huge old cottonwood tree, and several walnut and mulberry trees.

Once again I study the sky. A large cloud is quickly approaching which will most certainly bring with it a heavy downpour. I can see blue rays radiating below it, evidence of the rain it is bringing. Drops are already quickening their pace. I dare myself to race home, a half mile away, before the cloud overtakes me.

Bingo and I run uphill until we are both exhausted. The grove around my farm at the top of the hill encourages me as the distance between us diminishes. The nearer we get, the harder it rains. It is lightning closer and thundering louder. The thought of lightning striking me gives me an extra surge of energy, so I quicken my pace.

Both of us are completely drenched. I laugh at Bingo, who looks pathetic. His long fur is flattened and completely soaked like a wet mop. He looks as though he is laughing with his long pink tongue hanging out of his mouth. I hold my breath to avoid the odor of wet dog and pat his head encouragingly.

Finally, we reach the grove and head for the house. I again encounter the primitive tracks I left going in the opposite direction less than a half hour ago.

I humbly give credit to my competitor. I have been defeated. The rain cloud won our race. Nature can defeat anyone.