I very rarely walk around in bare feet, we are a family who remain well shod even on holidays.
Certainly, where I live, the ground is not conducive to digging your toes in; it is too stony and hard, frequently very burry and often hot enough to burn your breakfast. We also tend to undertake tasks that are surely better attacked with adequate foot protection, my eyes still water at the thought of a horse’s hoof turning on my big toe as a child. Once was enough. As a family work unit, we tend to boot up before entering the stock yards and we have all trudged the long walk home after a breakdown somewhere and been thankful for wearing sensible shoes. Anyone who has witnessed me trying to walk in thongs will know I wouldn’t get far.
This week, however, I have been barefoot and loving it. Just quietly, it has rained here over the last two days. Beautiful, slow, soaking rain. The best rain recorded here since February 2014, and we have, like children, played in the rain. We have been so fortunate when many around us are still waiting.
When you are waiting for rain like this, waiting for months, years, you imagine all the things you will do. When it rains. In the rain. I am not talking about wet weather jobs, we stopped keeping a wet weather job list years ago. Every now and then we would stop normal proceedings to catch up and complete the Wet Weather Job List, so we re-assessed and did away with it. They were simply not getting done.
No, I am talking about all the things I dreamed of doing when it rained. In the rain.
I stood in my garden shed and watched the rain run down the window panes. I planted cuttings into moist soil in soft rain. I stood with my face to the sky and let the rain rehydrate my skin. Rehydrate my soul. I breathed in the aroma of a wet felt hat, dripping water down your back and legs. All the way down, I felt like a tree channelling water onto the ground where I stood.
We slept a child’s sleep with rain on the roof, awaking now and then when it became heavier. Whispering to each other whose turn it was to walk down and measure the rain in the dark. I drew in that inky blackness of a wet night, let it envelop me from the inside out. I slept to the lullaby of the overshot dam running over and the Bullfrog chorus.
I walked around the garden in the soft, morning light and felt the water squelching up between my toes. Wet lawn, wet earth. Petrichor, the smell of rain, a word we love and so relished by dear friends near Thargomindah who are still waiting for good rains.
I turned a wing back chair around to face out through the big windows and watched the rain fall on the waterhole. I sat and gazed at the water changing colour as the different creeks came down, merging in our creek in front of the house. Watched the water level rise on the wrought-iron pelican, our flood marker. The ducks have gone mad these last days, snuffling and waddling and ducking and diving. All this is played out as I watch on from my chair, my tapestry lying untouched beside me. There is time enough for tapestry when the rain has stopped. The horses too have played like yearlings, rearing and bucking and sliding around me as I deliver their breakfast (in shoes for this job). Within days they will walk out chasing the lilies and the emerging green along the channels.
I walked through the mud, checking creek heights, racing the current as the channels fill and spread. Waded through gullies, splashed by the dogs and splashing them back. We slid across the claypans, skating into our turns, you simply cannot skate on a claypan in shoes. I sank to my knees in silt and sloshed back out again, washed my feet and hands in the puddles. I’ve had a marvellous couple of days doing all those things I dreamt of doing when it rained. In the rain. I do hope you have as well.
The Moble Gardener.