Leif Johnson — 21 May 2011, 05:05

Rain ! Finally we have had rain twice in as many weeks, and I am grateful for it.

I can't tell for sure, but I think the plants are even more grateful for it than I am. The roses this morning, busy pushing a new round of buds toward the sky, started to droop. The tomatoes have gone on strike, and the seeds that we planted in the past month have gone awol. But after a nice soak for a half hour or an hour, many of these errant vegetables start to straighten up and fly right. At least for the next week or so, the plants around town might celebrate a little—the Texas sage grows purple flowers atop its silvery leaf, and little horse herbs sprout yellow flowers in nooks and crannies. The bees abandon their zealous worship of the water drip we set up for them, preferring instead to get their water from sources unknown to us. The chickens, apparently not putting two and two together far enough to seek shelter, seem to prefer that the rain would leave them out of it, and stand resolutely in the middle of their run, faces tilted skyward towards the drops.

Last week it rained for real—the first time for probably 6 or 8 months—just when L and I happened to be sitting in a plane beside the runway at the Austin airport, hoping to get to Houston. The flight plans would have to be jettisoned, at least for that day, but we did get to sit in the plane on the runway while the worst of it passed overhead. I got to look out over the scrub oak and grasses of what remains of the Blackland Prairie next to the airport, the dry shrubs bending sideways in the gusts, getting pelted with water and lightning. The sight was beautiful, similar in a way to the yard and garden here at home finally getting some liquid refreshment from the sky, but more untamed and vast, shrouded in foggy falling droplets as the distance increased to the horizon.

Last week's rain happened bright and early ; today's came at dusk. In the course of it (both times), much of the dirt from the yard reconfigures itself, and a small moat forms and then disappears on the uphill side of the house, giving a good indication of where to put the rain garden later this summer. The gutters I put on the garage perform beautifully, funneling water into the rain barrels until they overflow. Immediately after, the ants panic and surface : all over town, even in the middle of the street, ants teem out of the earth and swarm over the surface of whatever surface happens to be there. The earth must be made of ants.

Lightning is still flashing in the distance even now, as the ants prepare their evacuations, and as I nod off to sleep.