The joy of labor in the rain
My father loved more than anything to
work outside in wet weather. Beginning
at daylight he’d go out in dripping brush
to mow or pull weeds for hogs and chickens.
First his shoulders got damp and the drops from
his hat ran down his back. When even his
armpits were soaked he came in to dry out
by the fire, make coffee, read a little.
But if the rain continued he’d soon be
restless, and got out to sharpen tools in
the shed or carry wood in from the piles,
then open up a puddle to the drain,
working by steps back into the downpour.
I thought he sought the privacy of rain,
the one time no one was likely to be
out and he was left to the intimacy
of drops touching every leaf and tree in
the woods and the easy muttering of
drip and runoff, the shine of pools behind
grass dams. He could not resist the long
ritual, the companionship and freedom
of falling weather, or even the cold
drenching, the heavy soak and chill of clothes
and sobbing of fingers and sacrifice
of shoes that earned a baking by the fire
and washed fatigue after the wandering
and loneliness in the country of rain.
(from G. Keillor’s collection Good Poems)
Farm work doesn’t take break, but in this poem by Robert Morgan, it’s almost as if the father relished the rainy conditions as a way to work alone and undisturbed. My memories of my father were similar, working outside in the cold of winter, but as with this man, every so often a farmer has to come back into the house to regroup. In this case he’d dry out his coat, have something to drink, read a little, and warm up by a wood fire. Cozy and comforting, but soon he’d regain his energy after drying out, again going into the rain.