A tumbling wall of gray rumbles across the orchard obliterating everything. The din on the roof is overwhelming and unrelenting. The rain just won’t stop. The wind pushes against the house, sings in the wires and hums down the stovepipe. I step out to greet the storm and am buffeted back by massive gusts. I bend into it heading towards the garden, noticing spears of branches tossed in my direction. Massive avocados are strewn everywhere, some opened in creamy yellow, split by the impact with the ground. A brief flash coupled with an exploding crack resonates in my chest and I’m drenched and running, all the while sending out gratitude for the precious rains.
I’m bringing in firewood. The stove will be lit for months, a presence in the home, giving warmth and light and counsel. I start and end my days here and it is the focus of return, the heart of the household, the focal point, the center.
Meanwhile another fire has entered our lives. We sit before it’s silver glow, transfixed and captive. And inexorably it burns through bigger and bigger chunks of our day. Though painfully intermittent and at its best, quite slow on our rural farm, the internet is an unavoidable presence. Our connection is through the cell phone tower many miles away and is glacially slow. When the net actually functions, a page takes an age to load. Some days, emails don’t send. This precious connection to the outer world is tenuous at best.
On my last trip in NY, ensconced in some tall building, I needed my weather app to know how to dress each morning! My iPhone use in the city was vital and I was on it constantly - I actually had to recharge it several times a day. Here it is barely exercised, so my focus is blessedly elsewhere.
The storm rumbles out to sea and harmonizes with the reassuring crash of waves. I dodge raindrops, levering the splitting maul into yielding chunks of jarrah. Overladen with rain-splashed load of fresh split logs I stagger to the house, a draft of woodsmoke swirling deliciously past my nose.
I’ll sit with my back to my fire, and my front to the computer, listening to the wind in the eaves while the screen haltingly loads. There’s time to dream, ruminate, and remember. It’s winter on the farm.