It drizzled through the night here, and I awakened to dappled puddles in the driveway as light showers continued. My hens understood immediately the significance of sustained rain — earthworms! — and charged into the cool, damp yard to see what had surfaced for breakfast:
Meanwhile, my week-old chicks were honing their own scratching and pecking skills in the brooder, inspired by the small yet mighty exuberance of the Americana:
I took my morning run along trails that become slick with mud whenever rain graces our clay soil. The tops of the mountains were draped in a shawl of misty gray clouds; a stark white line along the foothills marked the elevation at which rain had turned to snow. It was beautiful.
Gentle moisture is always welcome along Colorado’s semi-arid Front Range, which is ever vulnerable to drought and desiccation. But in recent years, the prospect of rain has become emotionally freighted. In 2012, after a devastating wildfire up a mountain pass just west of here, the historic district of my little town flooded several times: Rain that had previously been absorbed by healthy soil sheeted off the burn scar, which had been charred to a cement-like hardness, and roared down the canyon into homes and shops. Many of us who live here, and others, too, shouldered shovels to clear mud from streets and basements; the Red Cross brought food to fortify our efforts.
Despite flood mitigation efforts, we all know it could happen again. When summer brings our first heavy rain, we will batten down the hatches, listen for the flash-flood siren and hope for the best.
Still, I love the rain. Before I moved to Colorado Springs in 1984, I vacationed in Cripple Creek, an alpine gold camp that in the 1890s boomed, burned and — by the time I came to know it — endured with a languid charm as a tiny tourist/ghost town. Local lore had it that, during torrential afternoon rains that often drench the mountains, pebbles of turquoise from higher ground would wash into the streets of Cripple Creek.
Years later, in Minnesota, I ran my first half-marathon in a little town south of the Twin Cities: 13.1 miles of rural road and hilly forest trails under a high canopy of leaves. There were light footfalls and measured breaths, the heavy, sweet smell of impending rain, and the occasional glimpse of other runners, gliding among the trees like ghosts. A high rolling storm darkened the sky and cracked lightning over our heads, then drenched us as we ran the last two miles on open road. I’ve kept the shirt to this day (in part due to the name of the race and the logo, I confess).
Me and my chickens, we like the rain.