Sunday, March 05, 2006

Rainshower (for Brig)

First published in Ireland of the Welcomes, Jul/Aug 1993
The hush was broken only by the lowing of the cattle as mist rolled by the hedge-row gap and rushed the cobwebbed grasses in the lower pasture. Here in the sheltered corner the moist air caressed the cottage, hidden from the road and nestled in a hollow of the land. It stroked the slate roof, probing for gaps beneath the lichens as drops gathered nearby to plot an earthward course, starting, slowing, pausing to join and rejoin until a single trickle guttered to the barrel by the lime-washed gable-end. Sweet turf-smoke, pale in the soft light, followed the mist across the hollow -- swirling, twining, floating down and through the low-cut hedge, dissipating in the open in one brief gust.

A tiny rivulet began near the front door, fed by water on the windowpanes that leaked down onto the sill, then to the worn path beneath where the grey stones spattered and darkened. It wormed its way between, standing in small, rippled puddles where the surface dipped a little, then spilled onwards, downhill to the wrought-iron gate and rutted lane, where purple-flowered clover soaked it up.

The clouds descended, brimming with light and life. Broiling, twisting, tumbling through the lowering skies, they funnelled clockwise past the garden gate, stepped out across the rooftop and the lip of the hollow, then filtered through spreading branches of a lone sycamore, they dipped towards a young stream. Yellowed, greyed, marble-flecked, stones and shingles splashed and gurgled the stream along, unseen and secretive, into some other distance.

The earth it ran through breathed slow and deep, silently inhaling pure silken air. Laden with the gentle weight of atmosphere, the luscious grasses of the bank turned slowly downwards, bowing to the nourishing soil. Birds, nesting, crouched low and were quiet. The whitethorn's barbs were jewelled with glassy beads that fell from spike to spike in little sudden showers, shaken by the freshening breeze. A brisk breeze. A drying breeze.

Cloud flurries passed by the hedgerow-gap, breaking and separating, scudding low in the pasture. The trickling waters sputtered on into the barrel, then slowing, turned to scattered drops and ceased.

The slate roof dried. Light broadened as sky-shadows crossed the fields, greens, browns, and yellows flickering into view, then spreading out in steady concentration while clouds grew fewer and sunlight filled the day. Vapours vanished, shimmering skywards. Flowers in the laneway unfolded and spread. In the tree, a bird, ruffled, wet, hopped twice along a branch, cocked head to listen, chirped. In the hollow, an answering call, another, and the day was filled with song. Cows crossed the freshened stream to grazing. Doors opened, voices carried, silence broken as the rain passed down the valley and away.

No comments: