“You have my blessing to blow it off,” says the Bearded One, whose elbow hurts. “I’ll get it when I get home.”
There’s a gap in the rain and we’re filling potholes. We’re halfway up the road, at Momma Goose’s easement, and I still want to clean the barn and get a sack of dry cob out of the truck and haul it up to the barn on the dolly. According to the Bearded One’s experienced radar reading, the rain returns in less than one more hour. He’s offered to haul the dry cob.
He strained his elbow this weekend, though. We had twelve people here for a tour and dinner to celebrate the holidays and coupledom and our eldest daughter’s engagement, and the elbow flared up while moving furniture. He got it from cutting thick fence wire weeks ago. He’s been shoveling gravel for an hour and a half. I’m not sure if I should let him finish the potholes by himself, much less haul the dry cob.
I look at him. I love how he looks in his black dickey, which keeps his neck warm, and which I kid him about regularly — Hey! You with the dickey! I love how he says that I have his “blessing.” He says it all the time, it’s part of his Texas accent, but he is the least religious person I know. He believes in radar, though.
After our oatmeal this morning, we checked Seattle’s AccuWeather map on the computer, the green rain blobs floating across the screen. The Bearded One had pointed to a huge undulating green mass south and east of our place on the edge of Puget Sound. “The big one is past us,” he said, “but look at these coming from the Olympics. We’ve got a gap of about two hours.”
Now the sky above us looks puffy and swollen with rain and I say, “I’ll get the dry cob, but I’ll take you up on finishing the road. Your elbow is good?”
A crow flies ahead of me, straight down the road as I head home. Even at 11am the forest is dark, and the crow caws “Hurry up!” The green blob is coming. As I walk, I think about the party 48 hours ago, which occurred during the last rain gap. We got lucky.
I toasted the group from the balcony overlooking our tiny living room where six couples and the Bearded One gathered around the woodstove with their glasses of bubbly or whatever. I played out a little drama of having invited a mystery visitor up there with me to read us a poem. Then I backed away from the railing, leaned over to my computer, and clicked on Garrison Keillor’s NPR reading of Mary Mackey’s exquisite “The Kama Sutra of Kindness Position #3” — about what it means to be, or try to be, a couple for life. There were many tears, including my own.
It’s rained constantly since then, and the potholes are full of brown water, which disguises their depth. One takes 10 or 12 shovelfuls of gravel. There are dozens of smaller ones growing furiously. The first few weeks after the annual grading and graveling are always like this — super rainy and the low places in the road get beat up no matter what. One of these areas is up at the corner of our place.
I turn around and can see the Bearded One way up the road, a stick man with a shovel next to the tractor. It surprises me. We are rarely so far apart, and I can feel the separation. It’s like I’m walking away from myself, or a layer of myself. My heart aches with the distance.
Then I turn into our driveway and up the tractor trail to the barn and get to work. I finish mucking out the barn, raking the soiled hay into a 3-foot-tall pile and then wheelbarrowing it to the chute where the chickens turn it as it makes its way down the hill and into compost. I even have time to move the dry cob and load some firewood before the rain and the Bearded One return.
After lunch, as the rain comes down, I make citrus for fruitcake. I boil grapefruit and orange rinds, scrape off the pulp, slice and chop the skins into 1/4″ squares, then boil them in syrup.
It takes a couple of hours and the Bearded One wants to help. He did last year. But his elbow hurts, and I know the scraping and chopping will just aggravate it.
We have so many words for rain, I think — drizzle, shower, downpour, sprinkle, mist, drench, torrent, deluge, cloudburst, squall, spit — I wish there were as many for love. I say, “You have my blessing to blow it off.”