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Oh, how we’ve ached for rain. Our town friends complain about too much of it. Closer to the mountains, they get almost daily soakings. Out here on our high ridge, we watch the storms roll past. The Palmer Divide splits storms like the bow of a ship cutting the ocean, and we can only watch gray sodden clouds spin off from the mountains and mosey on by. Consistently south or north go the storms to deliver precious loads of water somewhere else.Drought is bad enough but watching rain bypass us all summer is maddening. Dry weeks turn to months. Beyond anger, beyond despair I numbly do chores with the backhoe. Once again to the west, clouds build. Why should I quit working? It’ll miss us. All spring and summer my cynicism has been right. I saw the tornadoes that hit Ellicott 10 miles away. I’d kept working. We had not a drop of rain.Colorado Springs is pounded; I – 25 closed by flooding. We get two-tenths of an inch. The cattle ponds dry up. Ponderosa Pine begins to yellow. They murmur in the dry breeze to the grasses, stunted and dusty. The grasses rustle and whisper back: “Rain, where is the rain?” Day after day, storms slip by, spitting in our faces. The ground remains brick hard and dusty.The prairie is so dry it crunches underfoot. I’ve tried to keep my sense of humor. “Goin’ out to water the yuccas”, I’ll say, or “Saw a horned toad with a canteen today.” But lack of rain makes me anxious. Will the well dry up? Will there be enough grass for the cattle? All summer long, winter’s brown tinge never really leaves the land.Ilene tries to cheer me up: “No hail on the garden this summer,” she says. “No hail on the moon, either,” I reply dryly. My mood has become as dark as the passing storm clouds. Ilene says that she doesn’t want to hear any more about the rain. It’s gotten so that I won’t even look at the sky because after looking comes hope, and hope has been dashed again and again.I do chores in the dry, powdery dirt with the backhoe because drought or not, life goes on. As usual, to the west, brilliant white cumulus clouds build against an impossibly blue sky. The wind picks up, giving me a break from the heat, but now dry grit is blowing into my teeth and eyes. Here it comes. The big storms have started their daily travels, peeling off from the mountains and heading east. Looking up from pushing dusty dirt around, I steal glances at the burgeoning storm. Depressing to watch as the storms approach and then split, passing us by and skirting our high ridge, but I’ve just gotta look.The backhoe is roaring. Hat jammed to my ears, hunkered down in the seat I pile on all the speed the old tractor will muster to get in from the west pasture before I’m overrun by an angry gray gust front. This day furtively watching clouds boil up over mountains to the west has paid off, it seems. Now the storm threatens to engulf me. Pulling up behind the barn I stand on the brake. Tractor shut down, I cover the seat and controls with a tarp.The engine stilled, I can hear the wind rushing, humming. Tentatively at first, big raindrops make pop-popping sounds on the barn’s corrugated tin roof. Liquidy plump drops raise little dust clouds as they pelt the parched earth. It’s coming on in earnest now. Daylight takes on an odd quality, sort of greenish as increasingly urgent raindrops pick up the pace. Thunder rumbles as I shut off the diesel fuel valve. Now water is sluicing off my hat brim. Driving rain thoroughly soaks my old canvas coat, and I’m laughing. Looking up, the rain pummels my face, turns dust to mud and washes it out of the crow’s feet around my eyes. Water courses down the outside of my throat, winding a trickled path over sternum to belt.The day’s work is done. Cancelled. All my plans set aside, and I’m just fine with that. Already soaked, I run anyway, slipping on unfamiliar mud, to the house. Bursting in through the garage, my goofy grin matches Ilene’s.”Did you finally pay the rain bill?” She asks with dancing eyes, happiness and sympathy writ large on her face.Dripping wet, soaked clear through in rain mixed with sweat and dust turned to mud, I grab her and plant a smacker right on her lips. She shrieks and struggles and laughs out loud, unabashed. Rain at last. Relief washes through us both, the rain pounding on the metal roof of our little ranch house. Gutters gush and tensions melt. Drops join and flow and fill cattle ponds, and lines on faces soften.You may think us easily pleased. Perhaps so, but living with the earth one realizes at a gut level that all life on land, all human accomplishment is indebted to sunshine, soil and the fact that every now and then – it rains.

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