Monday, 28 September 2015
A Rainy Field: A Writing Exercise
After an hour and a half of rain, the field had drunk well. Its verdant colour had been restored. The scattered ferns and blades of grass, and the hedgerows fringing the field, were trickling water sluggishly. All was relaxed and quiet, almost as if the laziness of the rain had pervaded the expanses of weed and grass.
The well-saturated trees at the bottom of the meadow were also dripping, but, it seemed, with more enthusiasm. Their leaves were vivid green, their branches thick and knotted, their bark carved roughly into weird shapes which eerily resembled upside-down grins. The sound of rain echoed in the corridors of fern and of damp leaves, under the green blanket of forest. Slugs slowly crawled through mud. And the rain – well, the ferns glistened with it, each frond lit up by a crystal-clear drop, as perfectly formed as the dew in the morning.
A soft sigh escaped from the field, as the rain slowed to an even lazier drizzle. Quiet reigned supreme in the tasteful countryside, and drops fell in slow-motion before shattering silently on the green floor which gently embraced them. The rain and the grass were in the act of a great, tearful reunion, encompassing the entire field and the country lane beyond.
The sun framed all the rain-soaked plants with a hazy evening glow. A cobweb, spun between two birch trees, was lit from behind, and appeared at once both timeless and brand new. Its master was not far away, clambering in a tiny world all of its own, its little black body bathing in the yellow light.
Almost as if it were acting against the sudden reappearance of the sun, the rain began to fall once more. This time it fell both fast and hard. In seconds, the relaxing sound of dampness was blotted out by the cacophony of battering bolts of water, all eager to slide past the next, all eager to make themselves heard.
The arriving cascade sent its minions to the bottommost reaches of the forest floor, and the rainshower seemed absurdly single-minded in its goal to drown the forest. Leaves sagged under the weight of the deluge. If the great circles which ringed the trunks of their owners were anything to go by, they had long suffered such cloudbursts; but they were not inured to them, and many leaves let the rivulets of water drip off their waxy green surfaces with an almost human reluctance.
Out in the field, amidst the trodden shoots of thistle and weed, pools of brackish rainwater slowly began to form as the bolts came tumbling down. Miniscule mires of mud moulded the grass into tufted clumps of their own design.
A crow, zigzagging in the air in a futile effort to avoid the rain, perched unceremoniously atop a broken fence post. Its glimmering iridescent feathers were streaked with mini-streams, its eyeball glistened, and the guttural aark which flew out from its beak made it seem almost as if the bird were begging the rain to stop. The barbed wire, painted maroon by rust, seemed in its contortions to be acknowledging its agreement with the crow.
The fast-falling beads of water, with their allies the blustery gusts of wind, swept the spider to a watery grave. A little green frog sat unmoving under the canopy of a large toadstool, the curves of its mouth turning upward in what might have been a grimace every time a fresh barrage of relentless rapping assaulted the fleshy roof of the fungus. And the great goshawk, ordinarily king of this stretch of farmland, sat haughtily on a dampened bough, its feathers wet and ruffled, maintaining the vigil it had begun several hours ago. Funnily enough, the slugs of all the creatures seemed the least perturbed – and merely continued tracing sticky silver on the dead leaves.
The clouds were earnest in their aim to bring down the sky, and the rain fell like tears, little tears of the sky. Some of the water seemed to spring up from the earth, however, as if the grassy banks were also weeping with joy. As they came so fast on one another’s heels, the pattering and splashing slurred into one another to form the noise of water.
The creatures might have been irritated by the rainfall, but the sight couldn’t fail to impress them. With the sun out, each drop caught a little chink of its rays, and took the tiny piece of sunshine with it to the ground far below. With the sun out, the shimmering crescents of gold seemed to dance across the field, each patter like the sound of shoes on a dance floor. With the sun out, they rippled in waves of gilded missiles, throwing themselves apart, now coming together, gold, and blue, green, crimson, every colour of the spectrum contained within the swirling mass of rain. And it wasn’t just the rain which danced, but the sky and the rolling countryside seemed to dance too. Flashes and whipcracks of gold lit up the little field as still the silver bullets plunged through the performance, coming to rest with cries of happiness on the water-logged turf.
The rain slowed rapidly. And then it stopped, not quite as suddenly as it had begun, but nevertheless with an air of someone who has had a great deal of fun, but is required elsewhere and has had to dash off to a more pressing appointment. The last remnants of the shower fell, interspersed with the sun’s dying rays, and landing with bubbly sounds in the muddy puddles which adorned the green. There was a quiet moment as the thousands of tiny streams coursing across the field burbled to themselves, and then...
For the shortest of seconds there was silence in the field. And slowly, slowly, it began to uncurl from its dance. The crow shook itself roughly and sped off into the sky. Somewhere out of the confines of the field, a sheep uttered plaintive baaaing noises. The hedges sprang to life as their resident legions of sparrows took to the wing, and the sheltered green frog looked up at the sky, wearing a grudging but pleased expression, as it hopped away on its next excursion. The rabbits emerged, sniffed the air as if rain, the absence of rain, and the aftermath of rain all had separate aromas, and then they all bounded out of their burrows. From further away came the sharp sound of snail against rock – evidently the thrushes were back in business. The creatures of the field came to life. Only the great goshawk still sat where it was, carved into the wood of the tree.
A few more trickles of water, latecomers to the dance, came plunging down. Generously, the green open arms of the landscape did not deny them entrance, but instead welcomed them with a soft patter.
The rain seemed weary of its duties. Across the wide green field it fell, in long sprawling arcs of stippled silver. It was plain to see that its heart was not in it; the slanting drops of water fell lazily, and hit the ground with lethargic plops.