I went on a guided nature walk yesterday, to an arboretum. I learned about the Honey Locust, the Pignut Hickory and the Rusty Blackhaw. Many of the tree specimens were dead or dying, victims of the summer’s drought or degenerating, mysterious diseases, but all in all, it was not a day wasted. I did not begrudge the time spent wandering through the rain-soaked afternoon, perhaps because for once in my life, I had a raincoat with me on a day it was raining. I don’t usually do these kinds of things, outdoorsy things and things with new people but something came over me after my late Sunday morning brunch of fresh hen eggs, country ham, and fancy preserves all the way from California. I got up from the table and set about getting ready before my head could talk my body out of doing it.
Afterwards, after the long drive home – I forgot about the Sunday game – I reflected on my adventure and ate a simple meal of homemade vegetable soup, brought to me during my convalescence, good crusty bread, soft, French cheese, spread like butter, and a decent enough red wine. The rain, which had been timid before, came down in a steady, heavy, hypnotic patter as I savored each morsel of my supper.
The dog, at first intent on securing for herself some of my meal, was at last satisfied with a crust of bread, sopped with the soup. She curled to rest at my feet with a sigh, only the tip of her nose poking out from under the old, white linen tablecloth. From time to time,when I lay my hand in lap, I would feel her cold, wet nose softly nudge, looking for another bite. Her patience paid off when I decided I had done what I could to the bowl of soup and to the plate with its bread and cheese and all was slid under the table for her to finish, all the while her tail softly thumping against the table leg, keeping time to the rain, adding a bass note to the high staccato.
I read from a novel, Russian, and when the rain ended, I walked out onto my front porch and stood as the last of the late summer sunshine made a peach-hued sunset to rival any that has been seen. And because that was not enough and Mother Nature was intent on showing off, a rainbow appeared with the last of the light. It arched right over my head, over my home, as big and as bold as you care to see. It was as if She wanted to make up for the dead Sycamore and Elm and Flowering Dogwood, to say her day was not done, my day was not done. The rainbow came, a sign that all things that had been broken and battered, meaning every thing that had lived a life, would be made new again.