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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Showers and mercy drops

Very early in the morning, maybe 4:00, it rains, a light rain, or so you think, half-conscious. A little later, around 5:00 or 5:30, it's foggy (an extremely light rain!), and you don't need consciousness or the big window by the bed to tell you so, the foghorn does. The fog moves off slowly, out into the bay, all through the morning, through the reading-in-bed and breakfast and more reading and checking websites and writing, and by 11:00 the clouds are gone, mostly. Whereupon the wind picks up and the sky darkens and a lovely shower, not hard, not soft, just right, falls for 15 minutes. It has turned warmer and the sound of rain through the open door reminds you of childhood, of Sunday afternoons spent with Tom Sawyer or Horatio Hornblower, stretched out on a cot in a porch by the rushing Pere Marquette River. The rain stops, the sun comes out immediately as if summoned to tea, and you close your files and go out into the lushness.

On your walk down to Ash Point, the crab apples are fading from full glory and the lilac bushes, almost as big as trees, are rushing towards it. A crow luks-luks at you, just for fun. A deer trots down the McIntosh's lane, then stops at the edge of the trees and looks back. You are by turns cool and warm, depending on the faithlessness of the breeze. The sky at Ash Point shows the line of showers now racing away from you towards Vinalhaven, and more lines of clouds, a blacker shade of shale, racing at you from the west.

What makes a cloud release its water, or hold it for another place? You choose to sit outside on the deck for lunch, having thought you were safe, a fine judge of clouds, and then you feel a few drops. You look up. There is no cloud above you, but the wind has shifted to the north and the little dark number over there seems to be the cause, in amidst blue sky, and the few drops continue to fall out of the sunshine. You stay, eating a sandwich. Water beads on your apple, making it even more enticing. Drops plink into a glass of Orange Dry, and splatter and widen on your gray T-shirt. Five minutes and a few score drops later the sun dries and warms you again, until the post-rain breeze becomes a strong wind and drives you inside.

You remember the old, weird hymn whose refrain goes

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need;
Mercy drops 'round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

Its idea is simple, the reviving power of rain. The sub-idea is weird, that God holds or withholds the water from the clouds at His whim. Science would give another view, one not quite so dependent on the worth of the rainee. You don't really care at the moment. You've just had a morning of the true kind of faith.

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