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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Year's Worth of Rain

     It was a small farm, but it was also rather efficient, considering its size.  It consisted of a field, a barn, and a pale yellow house with a rose bush by the front door.  In the house, lived A Farmer and His Wife.

     They loved their lot in life.  So much so, that the townspeople took to simply calling them Farmer and Wife.

     One of the best parts about The Farm was that it sat on a hill, and Farmer and Wife could see all the houses in the valley from their enormous backyard, and behind every house, was a pond.

     Every morning, Farmer would wake to the sound of birds chirping, kiss Wife on the forehead and travel out to tend the fields, and every night, Farmer and Wife would sit on a quilt that Wife's grandmother had made and watch the people below as they swam,  fed the ducks and paddled their canoes in the ponds below.

  One night, while watching a flock of geese land gracefully onto a bright blue pond in the valley, Wife's eyes lit up.  She sat on her knees, locked eyes with Farmer and exclaimed, "We should dig our own pond!"

Her excitement was contagious, and Farmer quickly agreed.

They spent many nights, whispering in bed, making plans for their pond.

How deep would it be? How wide?  Where would they put it?

He bought her boots to dig in.  She bought him a shovel.

She would plant lilies.  He would build a bench.

For Farmer's birthday, Wife hired a man in town to build a canoe.

So. They started digging.  And digging. And digging.

When the last pile of dirt had been hauled away, Wife looked at Farmer, perplexed.

With sand in her hair and dirt on her cheeks, she placed her forearm on the handle of her shovel and stared at the large hole ahead.

" do we fill it?"

Farmer squinted in the sun as he replied, "Why, the rain, of course."

So they waited for it to rain.

In the meantime, Farmer bought Wife a red umbrella that matched the roses by the front door.

Every evening, they would sit on the quilt in the backyard, next to their hole and watch the people in the valley as they swam.

And as the sun started to set, they would take the laundry off the line, call the cats to the barn and close all the windows.

Because it was going to rain.  Of course. It was going to rain.

But still, they waited.

     Time passed, and they decided they were tired of waiting. They were going to fill the pond themselves.  As word spread, the people in the valley came to help.  They brought ropes and strong backs and buckets and drew water from a nearby well.

     But the hole was dry and full of sand and rocks and clay, and no matter how much water they poured in, the dirt seemed to drink it right up.  It was no use.  As the people left, they shook hands with Farmer and hugged Wife.  They didn't know what to say, but Farmer and Wife knew they were loved and that the people were sorry.

After everyone was gone, Wife sat on the quilt and cried softly into Farmer's shoulder.

     He would give her a year's worth of rain if he could. They both knew it, and that was their only comfort on that sad, dry evening.

     Many times, the townspeople invited Farmer and  Wife to swim, and they enjoyed it whole heartedly. Wife made pies filled to the brim with apples and peaches.  They spent hours swimming in the valley and floating in borrowed canoes.  The geese grew to recognize their voices and ran towards them with orange beaks open upon Farmer and Wife's arrival.  Small freckles appeared across Farmer's nose, and Wife's skin grew warm and tan.

But it wasn't the same.  It wasn't the same as feeding their own geese and manning their own canoe.

     Still more months passed with no rain.  But what made it worse was that it rained in the valley.  For days on end, large and plentiful drops fell from the sky.  The children in the town wore yellow raincoats and danced in the puddles.  Gutters cracked.  Fields flooded.  But all Farmer and Wife could do was sit on their hill, next to their hole and watch.

And wait.

      One afternoon, Farmer came home to find Wife sitting alone on the quilt, facing the hole.  He had decided, long ago, that he was finished waiting for the rain, but he stayed outside for Wife's sake.

He wanted them both to go inside together.  He loved her deeply, and he felt that was best.

He whispered, gently, "I love you.  I'm home.  It's time to come in."

Without turning around, she coldly replied, "I'm not coming in.  I'm waiting for it to rain."

But it didn't rain.

     And every night, Farmer would come home and whisper into Wife's dark, brown hair, "I love you.  I'm home.  It's time to come in."

And every night, Wife bitterly refused.

     Sometimes, he would make her tea with two lumps of sugar and a teaspoon of honey. Just the way she liked it.

But she never drank it, and she never brought the cups back in.

     He took her tea until he ran out of cups.  And when he ran out of cups, he bought new ones.  Because he loved her deeply.

     Wife's condition grew worse.  She begged the sky for rain.  She refused to come in.  If she just waited long enough, if she just believed hard enough, it would rain.  She knew it would rain.  Shame on Farmer for not believing.

Even still...

"I love you. I'm home.  It's time to come in."

     She dug her fingers into the dry dirt.  If the sky would not send rain, she would fill the pond herself.  She leaned over the edge of the hole and wept to the sound of splashing in the valley below.

But her weeping wasn't enough.

One day, Farmer whispered his usual greeting, "I love you. I'm home. It's time to come in."

And much to his surprise, Wife quietly collected all the scattered cups and followed him in.

     After that night, they began to busy themselves with other tasks in the evenings.  Wife took up knitting, and made things especially for Farmer.  She had absolutely no talent for it whatsoever, but Farmer wore each piece with pride.

He loved her deeply.

     Farmer took an interest in reading, and told Wife all kinds of stories.  They were great tales about knights and giants, science and flight.

     More time passed.  They gave the canoe to a man in town whose boat had been stolen.  Wife filled the bottom with treats from their garden, Farmer tied a bright blue ribbon around it, and the look on the man's face filled their hearts with joy.

     Farmer came home one day to find Wife tossing apple slices into the hole; her face twisted with worry.  A  goat had fallen into the hole, and she wasn't strong enough to pull it out.  Farmer bit into one of the apples and chuckled at her tender heart.  He puffed up his chest and rolled up his sleeves, ready to pull the goat to safety, but after a long day trapped in the hole, the goat was too afraid to approach him.

It didn't trust Farmer.  It was looking for Wife.

     Farmer glanced in her direction.  She was crying quietly.  He had mistaken her compassion for weakness.  

He needed her softness.  She needed his strength.  They would have to work together.

     Once the goat was free, Farmer built a fence around the hole so none of the other animals would fall in.

     After that, they didn't talk about the hole anymore, and it made Wife sad.  But there was nothing more to say.  It was a hole that they'd hoped would be a pond, but it didn't rain on the hill anymore.

      At one point, they considered filling it in with rocks and dirt and sand, but then it occurred to them that they didn't have enough of any of those things to really make much of a difference, so it stayed a hole.  To some, the story was short and sad, but Farmer and Wife would come to learn that the hole was helping them become better people.  

     Eventually, Farmer and Wife agreed that when they went to the valley, instead of fretting over the hole, they would tell people about how much they loved their little, yellow house and the rose bush by the door.  They didn't have a pond, but they were glad they had each other.

     They still sat on the quilt at sunset, but instead of looking at the people in the valley, they watched for wildlife instead.  Farmer bought a huge book about birds, and Wife wrote a list in the back of all the ones they'd spotted thus far. 

     One chilly spring morning, in the window of time between birds building their nests and laying their eggs, Farmer woke up concerned.  He whispered aloud, "Where are the birds?"  Gone was the familiar chirping; the sweet sound of flapping wings.

And then he heard the reason why.

He ran his hand through Wife's dark hair until her eyes opened slowly.

A smile spread across her face, and he was sure she heard it, too...

it was the sound of ...drip...drip....drip...on the window.

Images via here & here.


mandimadeit said...

Beautiful Holly.

Bri Schaaf said...

Love this story Holly!!! Totally touched a soft deep place in my heart!

Lauren said...

Holly, this is just beautiful. I teared up reading it. Pure gold, my friend. Pure gold.

Holly said...

THANK YOU, Friends! I really enjoyed writing it. It was kind of cathartic, in a way. #iamwife Haha...All good things. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and read. I really do appreciate it!

Kristi said...

Holly this was OUTSTANDING. Like, best thing I've read in a long time. Thank you so much for sharing it, and for participating in the linkup. PLEASE DO IT AGAIN. May I use this as the featured post for this month? Email me if you need to - andbabiesdontkeep (at) gmail

Holly said...

Kristi- thank you so much, friend! I will email you! :) You absolutely can use it (but I will email you anyway...haha).

Holly said...

Kristi- thank you so much, friend! I will email you! :) You absolutely can use it (but I will email you anyway...haha).