Waiting in Stillness for the Storm

Stormy Sky One

I waited for the storm throughout last night, my sleep smothered by the humidity that had invaded the house.  Nothing came. Not the storm. Nor the sleep.

I  gave up trying for sleep at six this morning, dressed and went outside into the stillness.  No wind from any direction. It was like the storm was waiting, holding back or being held back. A leaf on the giant tree in our backyard moved from the flap of a birds wing.  Even their song was muted. Eerie. My skin crawled. On this day, my world is too still.  Too quiet. I hold my breath too.  The suspense builds. The tension straining.

Stormy Sky Two
The horses, Charlie, Sonia and Maggie are locked up in the barn, munching on one of the last bales of hay from last summer’s crop. Chewing helps keep them calm. They don’t like storms any more than me. I left the lights on in the barn to diminish the shock of lightning and thunder and wind if it comes. When it comes.

Weather radar puts us in a red zone. Severe thunderstorms, high winds, hail, maybe even tornados.  The hay in the field has been cut. It lays in flat rows to dry. Then it will be raked into a continuous braided row that spirals inward to the middle of the field. The rake lifts the hay off the ground and flips it to dry the underside, preparing it to be baled.

The baler picks up the hay, smashes it into flakes and ties it into square bales. If the wind blows hard, the braid will be broken, scattering the hay haphazardly in the field, making it difficult for the baler to scoop it up.

If it rains before the hay can be baled, the water will leach out the nutrients, turning the hay from luscious green to lifeless grey.  The heavier the rain, the more life is drained away.

We grow organic hay for our horses, a lovely mix of grass with a bit of alfalfa.  If the hay is not dried when it is baled, it will mold–creating a toxic feed for any horse. Only cows will be able to eat it without getting sick, but we don’t have any cows.

The words “Make hay while the sun shines” run through my brain.  This is the first cutting, always the biggest of any season. The drought-diminished harvest of last year is all but gone. We need this hay.

Stormy Sky ThreeBut will the rain come too soon and ruin the hay for my horses?  Will it rain heavy? Or will it just sprinkle and skip over us as it has so many times before when big storms have been predicted?

There’s no way of knowing.  There’s just the waiting.  And the praying.  A tension that makes my skin crawl and boggles my mind, making the time unusable for anything but worry.

And so I wait in the stillness for the storm.  And pray it doesn’t come.  Not today.  Not tomorrow.  Not until the hay is baled and put under cover and all the animals are safe inside. Then, let the rain come. But not today.

10 PM LIGHTNING STORM

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The storm has passed, the rain has ended.

It has been raining, for more than a day, a nice, steady rain, soft and gentle, a healing rain after a long period of stress, weeks and weeks of drought, with strong dry winds and baking heat. The back of the heat has been broken with an almost shocking coolness, like a death after a long illness.

A peaceful night comes.

The suffering has ended. Transformation has come. The earth has come back to life–greener than green.

The hay in the field cut early from the wet, warm March begins to grow again.  The trees, already fully leafed-out, have their bounce back; lost is the fragile brittleness that the stress of the heat had created. The baby vegetables that had slumped from the harsh winds are perked back up, ready to sprout the fruit and flowers for the coming harvest to sustain me as I heal.

Sunny smiles

For I have been injured too, by the death of my 13 year old Golden Retriever, Sunny.  He was a good dog.  Always happy to greet a newcomer.  Bouncing with joy for any treat.  Eager to be at my side.  I will miss him.

Happy Dog

And Jazzy too, who we lost last year, long before her time.  She had been only seven and horribly sick for over a year when we finally ended her suffering.

Sunny seemed to suffer for only a day, a holiday when our vet was out of town.  So I stayed by his side to offer what comfort I could.

Both gone now.

Max is lonely now.  He’s cousin of Jazzy’s who we rescued last year to help Sunny and me through our grief.   No longer playful, Max huddles at my feet where ever I go in the house, struggling to please me in any way, his dark brown eyes sad.

Lonely now.

I hope to stay near him as much as I can because, for the first time in almost thirty years, we will be a one-dog family.  Max can still chase the cats about the house, but they cannot fill the hole that Sunny’s loss has created.

Goodbye old friend.

So we will mourn for a time and see if we can make due.  Times are hard and traveling is on the horizon.  Maybe next year we’ll think about getting another dog.  Not now.  Not yet.

I love you too.