A quiet, grey morning in the Berkshries...

Today is a cool and damp morning in the Berkshires: this weekend may be filled with bright sunshine, but the morning skies adorning this day are quiet and gray. Apparently there was a massive storm last night that proceeded to knock-out the power for 20,000+ people north of us, but I slept through it all. How like me to miss something so significant?
Toward evening, as the light failed
and the pear tree at my window darkened,
I put down my book and stood at the open door,
the first raindrops gusting in the eaves,
a smell of wet clay in the wind.
Sixty years ago, lying beside my father,
half asleep, on a bed of pine boughs as rain
drummed against our tent, I heard
for the first time a loon’s sudden wail
drifting across that remote lake—
a loneliness like no other,
though what I heard as inconsolable
may have been only the sound of something
untamed and nameless
singing itself to the wilderness around it
and to us until we slept. And thinking of my father
and of good companions gone
into oblivion, I heard the steady sound of rain
and the soft lapping of water, and did not know
whether it was grief or joy or something other
that surged against my heart
and held me listening there so long and late.
("Rain" by Peter Everwine)

This weekend our small family - at least parts of it - will gather for a late afternoon blessing ritual for our grandson. There will be prayers and water with feasting to follow. There will laughter and tears, too. We will use a basin to catch the holy water that has been in my family for generations. It was, in fact, a part of our youngest daughter’s baptism thirty some years ago. Now that my father is closing up his home and moving in with my sister, this basin has traveled from Maryland to Massachusetts and one generation to another.

For some reason melancholia saturates this hour: maybe it comes from my awareness that as one beloved baby boy ripens in beauty and promise, another old man’s life is in retreat. It could have something to do with the complexity of family gatherings. Or maybe I just don’t want to clean the house right now – but must. I know things always feel better after I dust, but still…

This odd poem by James Witcomb Riley makes me smile and reminds me of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.  It is a good word for a quiet, gray morning.

It hain't no use to grumble and complane;
            It's jest as cheap and easy to rejoice.—
When God sorts out the weather and sends rain,
            W'y rain's my choice.

Men ginerly, to all intents—
            Although they're apt to grumble some—
Puts most theyr trust in Providence,
            And takes things as they come—
                        That is, the commonality
                        Of men that's lived as long as me
                        Has watched the world enugh to learn
                        They're not the boss of this concern.

With some, of course, it's different—
            I've saw young men that knowed it all,
And didn't like the way things went
            On this terrestchul ball;—
                        But all the same, the rain, some way,
                        Rained jest as hard on picnic day;
                        Er, when they railly wanted it,
                        It mayby wouldn't rain a bit!

In this existunce, dry and wet
            Will overtake the best of men—
Some little skift o' clouds'll shet
            The sun off now and then.—
                        And mayby, whilse you're wundern who
                        You've fool-like lent your umbrell' to,
                        And want it—out'll pop the sun,
                        And you'll be glad you hain't got none!

It aggervates the farmers, too—
            They's too much wet, er too much sun,
Er work, er waitin' round to do
            Before the plowin' 's done:
                        And mayby, like as not, the wheat,
                        Jest as it's lookin' hard to beat,
                        Will ketch the storm—and jest about
                        The time the corn's a-jintin' out.

These-here cy-clones a-foolin' round—
            And back'ard crops!—and wind and rain!—
And yit the corn that's wallerd down
            May elbow up again!—
                        They hain't no sense, as I can see,
                        Fer mortuls, sech as us, to be
                        A-faultin' Natchur's wise intents,
                        And lockin' horns with Providence!

It hain't no use to grumble and complane;
            It's jest as cheap and easy to rejoice.—
When God sorts out the weather and sends rain,

            W'y, rain's my choice.


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