I stood outside my house at dusk a few nights ago. An unmistakable glow flooded the horizon. On clear nights, sunset flashes brilliant purple and gold against the trees. But that evening, heavy clouds had begun to gather to the north, edges kissed with the gentlest of pink. As the breeze rose, blackbirds settled for the night across the meadow, one last twitter as they tucked their heads beneath their wing.
Driving home from work that evening in a brisk Delta wind, I stopped to photograph a hawk clinging to a naked branch. I cannot fathom why he didn’t seek a sturdier perch. He glanced over his shoulder, seeming to watch as I snapped his picture through my windshield. The wind bashed against him. I wanted to open my window and offer him safe harbor. Instead I shifted gears and drove away, hoping that his survival skills would carry him through the night.
The rain began to beat against my metal roof as I closed the door, tapping its rhythm, a song the words of which I strain to recall. I stood beneath the feeble overhead light, imagining the creatures in the park: The feral cats; the coyotes; the baby owls just venturing out along the branches. Where can they hide from the storm?
I suddenly thought about the expression “fair weather friend”. I understand its bittersweet connotation. I think I’m more of a “foul weather friend”, the one to whom you turn when you need advice, a listening ear, or a mild suggestion. You might not exactly trust or admire me. You won’t fear my judgment though. Perhaps you have a low enough opinion of me that you don’t worry about looking shabby in my eyes. Maybe you remember that I’ve stumbled, badly, publicly, so many times that my reputation as a cripple rivals anyone. That kind of person surely knows a thing or two of trouble. Someone like me won’t criticize your fashion, your fears, your poor choice of lover, or the lousy hair color you got from a box.
We don’t have thunderstorms in the Delta, not often anyway. The wind can ravage our meadow; the rain pummels these tiny dwellings. But it’s a quiet sort of deluge which soaks the ground. I lie awake and listen to the dance of rain my roof beneath the heavy night sky. I fall asleep to the clatter of my wind chime against the good Missouri cedar of my walls.
It’s the nineteenth day of the seventy-seventh month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.