Summer rain

For the rain it raineth every day — from Twelfth Night 

It’s been a month of on and off rain.  Dull steady downpours.  Wild wind-driven tempests.  Lukewarm, almost weightless morning mists.  Thunderstorms have been in the forecast nearly every day — for weeks on end.  More often than not, the clouds that billow and darken into a mountain of threatening postures simply collapse of their own weight and disperse into a patchwork of sunlight and blue skies.  The other night, though, we had a deluge that pounded against the windows and flooded the basement.  In the morning, the ferns lay flattened and pitiful as supplicants and the sunflowers had collapsed face-down in the vegetable garden. I helped them up and roped them to the fence posts just as the Parisians used to do to with their sleeping drunks. Much of the spindly monarda and gossamer cosmos, though, was battered beyond repair, petals strewn like post-parade confetti across the soggy ground.

Here’s a poem by Jane Kenyon on the subject.  She was married for over twenty years to the poet Donald Hall who puts in an appearance (by his absence) in the lines below. Both acclaimed poets, Hall and Kenyon moved in 1975 to Eagle Pond Farm in Wilmot, New Hampshire which had been in Hall’s family for many generations.  Kenyon died from leukemia in 1995 at the age of forty-eight. Hall, who continued to live at Eagle Pond, passed away in June of this year at the age of ninety.

Heavy Summer Rain

Jane Kenyon

The grasses in the field have toppled,
and in places it seems that a large, now
absent, animal must have passed the night.
The hay will right itself if the day

turns dry. I miss you steadily, painfully.
None of your blustering entrances
or exits, doors swinging wildly
on their hinges, or your huge unconscious
sighs when you read something sad,
like Henry Adams’s letters from Japan,
where he traveled after Clover died.

Everything blooming bows down in the rain:
white irises, red peonies; and the poppies
with their black and secret centers
lie shattered on the lawn.

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9 Responses to Summer rain

  1. Patricia Markert says:

    So touching the way Kenyon wrote of Hall, and he of her, one of the great poet romances, I think.

    And the cosmos you are so right cannot stand up to constant moisture.

  2. Amy K White says:

    Jane Kenyon’s poem is a wow. Thank you….(so sayeth a widow who lives nearby in the midst of all our natural beauty and the rain!) Amy

  3. Anders Gyllenhaal says:

    Such a delightful post. A thoughtful way to think of these storms, which we happen to be experiencing on a trip through New England, as Liza knows, having entertained us much of last week. I love the image of picking up the pummeled ferns and holding them up, like drunks on a Parisian street. Hope they sober up and get back on their feet.

  4. Beata M Newman Scarpulla says:

    I too love this post as well as the reply that Anders sent. The image of putting ferns up like drunks on street in Paris is just perfect.

    I love seeing the way plants start to revive themselves when the sun comes out after a storm as you described. They just slowly uncurl themselves.

    Thanks for this visual.


    • Liza says:

      Thanks, Beata. I like the image in Kenyon’s poem about the field looking as if a large animal had slept in it. In fact, not only are our fields beaten down in places by the rain, but they are the sleeping quarters for large animals!

  5. Susan Fisher says:

    Needless to say, I bemoan what these storms have done to so many things in our garden. The beautiful Russian sage that had just reached its peak color has been particularly hard hit. Ah, I too have to bow to Mother Nature!

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