The alarm clock displays a big red 5:06AM. I’m lifted from bed by expectancy’s gentle yet compelling hands. Fog is so thick I can’t see out the big bank of windows. I rush out onto the porch. There, boldly silhouetted against the white curtain rising from the Whitewater River Valley, two deer. No, three. Wait no, there’s six actually grazing on the Land’s distant prairie ridge. Suddenly, a spotlight ignites the hilltop behind me, stealing the show away from the deer. I stride up the gravel road to the high spot just as one white wild indigo bursts into flame. Then another and another. Soon hundreds upon hundreds leap into a prairie celebration of dawn’s first light. All this is enough, perhaps, to help my body forgets its pain. Actually, it doesn’t forget. But it does feel rewarded. This---this achingly beautiful connection---is what it’s all about after all.
Speaking of rewards, I got mine. It rained. The cistern is now full. On Thursday, Linda, her mother and I witnessed the historic first harvest of rainwater. We watched excitedly as the first flush diverter did its job, allowing the first downspout collected water, rooftop dirty, to pass out onto yard, then after throwing away 50 gallons or so, allowing the rest to pass on down the buried pipes and into the cistern.
But watch out what you ask for, you just might get it. And on Saturday, we did. With our dear friends Pam and Brad here for their first overnight, we were visited by the rains from hell. A thousand hammers beating the roof at once could not have matched its fury. And the terrible east winds were pelting the rain straight sideways against our windows. Water oozed under the window seat onto the concrete floor. “It’s pouring into the root cellar,” Linda yelled up from the basement. Either the buried pipe backed up or the first flush diverter just said “to hell with it, I can’t keep up” as it allowed a fire hydrant of water to gush out the downspout onto the yard. Our little drainage swale became a swollen, muddy Amazon. We still don’t know how much grass seed it carried to the bottom of the hill, but flocks of cowbirds have been feasting for days on the flotsam and jetsam. We pretty much lost any hope of ever walking on anything but a mud moat around our house.
Yet desperation drives inspiration. Problems become solutions. Lemons become lemonade.
Just off the east porch---the very corner where the downspout once gushed onto grass seed---is now a raised bed kitchen garden. Or will be once Linda plants her herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. All that downspout water is now captured in a freshly dug hole---15 feet long, 3 feet wide, 6 inches deep---lined with split logs and topped with woodchips to serve as a garden path.
My body still hurts from the two day effort. And maybe that’s a good thing. As I type, my stiff fingers remind me of their labor, their creative energies. So that even now, though I sit in the yoga loft, I’m also out there in the kitchen garden. The feel of wet dirt. The smell of rotting wood. The sound of water, drumming and gushing. And, perhaps best of all, the feel of the smile on Linda’s face. All the Connection, the achingly beautiful Connection.