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.
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.
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.