Monday, December 12, 2011

NYT Editorial: "The rain it raineth"By VERLYN KLINKENBORG

It rained the whole of the last week we were in Sydney, and by all accounts the big wet there has basically continued ever since (noticed there has not been a good track in Sydney since the Rosehill meeting on December 3rd) . So here is the NY Times waxing lyrical about November rain in these parts, in their occasional "The Rural Life" editorial series, published the day we returned from Down Under. I imagine Verlyn is some old codger with a white beard wearing a flannelette shirt and dungarees while riding his John Deere tractor somewhere not far from Millerton. Hope you enjoy it!

“It’s raining,” I think, and then wonder what the “it” is that is doing the raining. Ordinarily, that’s just a linguistic question. But on a cold November day, it feels like a philosophical problem. It makes no sense to say the clouds are raining when the sky is so solidly, grayly felted. In the pasture, the horses stand, hair slicked, hind legs cocked. I conclude that what is raining is the rain, a phrase that sounds like the opening of a grim, Anglo-Saxon lyric.

The trees are coming into their winter bareness, the only green is the lichen on their branches. Against the hemlocks, the rain is falling in dim, straight lines. The sugar maples on the far edge of the pasture have nothing to say about the rain, only the wind. This is the time of year when all the houses have come out of the woods, edging closer to the roads as if for company.

It will sound strange to say that on a day like this my thoughts are never far from the chickens, but it’s true. The red heat lamps are on in the brooder house, and when chore time comes I’ll look in through the window and watch the month-old chicks for a while before disturbing them with food and fresh water. One by one, they stand and stretch a wing and leg — the only balletic move a chicken can make — then settle back into the mass of bodies. They’re always seeking thermal equilibrium, clustering tighter and edging closer to the heat as the temperature drops, dispersing and drifting away as it rises.

I do the same inside my house, sitting close to the wood stove, writing. The fire burns clean and hot, but this is the kind of day when there is sometimes a backdraft, a tuft of smoke venting out the air intake and into the kitchen with an audible puff. It rises and vanishes but leaves behind the scent of oak and maple burning, a scent so welcome and autumnal that it’s almost bacon to the nose. The rain rains, I write, the chickens brood, and the horses stand in the mist of their breath, all of us getting along as best we can.

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