Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010

Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010
Photo by R.E. Berg-Andersson

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Rainy Day Musings

The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain.
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

We have had rain for much of the last week. I sit on my back porch and listen to the rain fall, knowing human-made activity and noise will be at a minimum this Saturday morning and I'll have some unusual suburban peace and quiet.

Rain-swollen Whippany River, Morris County, New Jersey 2018
(Margo D. Beller)
In "Walden" Henry David Thoreau wrote that a "single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener." This rain has done that, and also made it many inches longer. Weeds have sprung up and MH is going to have an interesting time using the mower, whenever things dry out.

There is little in the way of bird activity. A male cardinal looks for the seed feeder I did not put outside because I didn't want the seeds to get so wet they'd sprout. I can see the flowers from the forsythia, quince, apple and pear have already disappeared while the fading dogwood flowers are becoming overwhelmed by the leaves. The daffodils are finished but the azaleas, rhododendron, perennial geranium and coral bell flowers are opening. Out of nowhere purple columbine flowers have appeared.

There's always activity in the garden and in the woods but northbound bird migration may be slowly ending. I have been hearing a blackpoll warbler calling for the past four mornings. This bird, which looks like a black-capped chickadee, has one of the longest migratory routes of all the birds -- nearly 1,800 miles. Most years this would be one of the last warblers I'd hear in the spring, but the way the weather had been the birds were delayed, bunched together and passing through in a big rush, including the blackpoll. Still, when I hear its thin call I know migration is soon to end even though I still hear plenty of bird calls from those that will breed in my suburban part of New Jersey.

Friends south of where I live complain their gardens are becoming seas of mud and fear their plants will drown. Where I live we had a day off from the rain yesterday so MH and I could go out. As we took a walk around what used to be known as Greystone we sidestepped mud on the paths and saw lakes in the depressed areas of open fields. However, we also saw plenty of birds including hungry barn swallows flying over those fields that weren't inundated, hunting for insects.

2018 peppers, so far (Margo D. Beller
Rain is a necessary evil. It keeps you indoors when you have things you'd rather be doing outside, like looking for migratory birds or working in the garden (or doing more mundane but necessary chores like getting groceries). It forces ants, spiders and all sorts of creatures that live outdoors to come indoors - usually into the cellar but sometimes into the house, too. As long as we maintain power and the sump pump can keep running, I am not that concerned about rain.

That's because the rain has also woken plants from their winter slumber. Tree leaves have popped out and spread. Plants I knew I had but worried had died are growing. Plants I did not know I had make a surprise appearance. I have picked small but ripe peppers from one of the plants infested with white flies. This plant had to be put outside much too early, when it was still cool, to limit the damage to my other house plants. That these peppers, stunted but still edible, grew at all is amazing and no doubt helped by all the water. The other pepper plants I'm growing are flowering or showing fruits, the basil is growing nicely and the cannas have responded to the rain by sending up this year's shoots.

I can put up with the rain. When life is hectic it is good to sit and stare out and let your mind go blank. Is that "mindfulness?" Is that "meditation?" Call it what you will, I call it a necessary, good rest. And at some point, the rain will end. It always does.

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