I woke to a dark and rainy Saturday morning. My husband had gotten up early to go into work. Except for the cats, who paced around the kitchen area, waiting to be fed, the house was quiet. As I sat at the big oak table, eating cereal and watching the rain slide down the glass doors, I looked about to see who was still here. About ten bodies, mostly teen-age boys, were strewn about the room, each wrapped in a blanket.
Boy in Black and his friends had been up late, playing cards, joking and teasing each other, talking constantly. Their conversation covered all kinds of topics: the bomb scare at school, the Hitchhiker movie, the fistfight at school that had gotten CoolKid suspended, the latest science fiction book they were all reading, the fighting in Iraq, and the possibility of a draft. The frenzied energy of the night before had worn away, and they were sleeping peacefully. Most of the boys sleep with the blanket right over their heads, so I couldn't even tell which ones were my own sons, although the long blonde hair beneath the blue blanket told me which one was BlondeNiece. And I could tell CoolKid as well, because he likes to sleep with a beach towel and he always takes the couch.
A perfect day for a walk in the woods. I cleaned the kitchen and then talked to a friend who lives far away. We talked about books and kids, and about what happens to young men when they go to war. Then I pulled on my big green boots and purple raincoat.
The air tastes good on a rainy day. As I tramped through puddles, splashing water onto mounds of moss and leaving muddy footprints, I breathed in all that wonderful moisture. The sound of raindrops pattering against the hood of my raincoat reminded me of the many afternoons I've spent in a tent on a rainy day, cosily tucked into a sleeping bag with a book or journal. I love the sound of rain.
Big shallow puddles filled my woods, dark puddles stretching over dead leaves. Staring across the woods, I could see raindrops falling everywhere, filling the puddles with circles and circles, circles that kept arriving and disappearing. When the rain came down harder, little white splashes would spark up, almost as if something in the puddle was choosing to dance, like little spirit beings. I stood and stared at the puddles, huge puddles stretching like shallow ponds, filled with trunks of trees and dead branches.
All around me, on tree branches and shrubs and all along the forest floor, bits of green, just little bits of light green, seemed to be unfolding almost as I watched. The more I looked, the closer I looked, I began to see green everywhere, tiny new leaves clinging to wood and stem.
Walking back to the house, I went through my own gardens, looking to see which plants showed signs of returning and which had been killed by the winter. The lilacs, that loyal bush, were covered with green. I shook my boots off on the porch - I always remove my boots without touching them because of the poison ivy - and stepped back into the still quiet house, almost tripping over my oldest son, who was still wrapped in a black blanket, sound asleep on the floor. I thought of waking him up, but then didn't. He is almost seventeen. I don't know how much longer he will have this carefree life of hanging out with friends all night, talking and laughing. He knows as well as I do the grim realities of the world he is growing up into. He cannot stay cocooned in that blanket much longer. But for now, I will let him sleep.