Write down the first words that comes to mind when we say . . .. . . home.. . . soil.. . . rain.Use those words in the title of your post.
Ellie stood in her ramshackle kitchen, staring out the dusty window at the dusty yard that met the dusty field. There was nothing green in sight. Not one blade of grass, not a leafed-out tree or bush. The yard had been a showplace just a couple of short years ago, before the rain had stopped. Now, there was nothing but brittle brown stubble and tired old trees that didn’t have the strength to raise their branches to the sky.
Her prized roses? Huh. Not much of a prize these days. What the dust didn’t kill, the locusts did. Or the wind. The wind sucked the life out of everything, leaving desolation in its path.
Drought. Dust. Dry. Drained. Depression. The Great Depression, they called it. That sure was fitting.
Ellie rubbed her eyes with her index fingers, trying to relieve herself of the itchy feeling the dust always left. Sighing, she picked up her rag and set about the useless business of trying to wipe the dust from the kitchen counters. When she finished that, she’d try to clean the dishes. Thank goodness the well hadn’t gone dry yet. They rationed water as if it were gold, knowing that eventually, if it didn’t rain, the well would go to dry dust just like everything else had.
Years later, one of Ellie’s granddaughters would ask her, “Grandma, why do you always rinse out the glass before you fill it up with water? It’s clean when you take it out of the cupboard, isn’t it?”
And she would reply, “Yes, Sweetpea, it’s clean. It’s just an old habit of mine from the Dustbowl Days when no matter how clean the glass was when you put it away, the dust would get into it anyway and you had to rinse it out before you could use it.”
But this day, Ellie didn’t know she would survive this hell. She didn’t know she would live to see grandchildren running through the lush green yard and coming racing into the house seeking a drink. All she knew was that she was slowly losing her grip on reality, and if something didn’t happen soon, she may slip into a world where no one could follow her.
Sighing, she worked her way through the darkened house. John had boarded up most of the windows against the dust and the grasshoppers and the wind. They did everything they could think of to protect themselves, but when a dust storm blew up, it seemed that the gritty stuff seeped through the walls themselves. She’d taken down the curtains and stored them away, hoping for a better day.
Pushing the front door open, Ellie stepped out onto the porch. The boards creaked under her light step. She took her worn out broom and swept the unrelenting sand and dirt from her wide front porch, down the steps, into the yard. Futile as it was, knowing she’d be doing the exact same thing tomorrow, she stayed busy with the chore until it was as clean as she was ever going to be able to get it.
She looked out across the stubble in the field, squinting against the sun as she watched her husband pouring buckets of precious well water on a few remaining cornstalks. Her heart ached for him. He’d worked so hard, and all he had to show for it was a handful of still-growing plants.
Sighing, she turned to go back inside when she felt a little tug at the hem of her dress. She glanced down, expecting to see the tired old dog asking for his water bowl to be filled. Nothing there. Huh.
Then she felt it again, only this time her dress flattened against her body and her hair lifted off her forehead in wispy feathers.
A breeze? Oh, no. Another dust storm coming? She really didn’t think she could stand it one more time as the black clouds of hatred rolled across the prairie, darkening the sky and covering the ground with filth.
She turned to the west, expecting to see the tell-tale line in the distance, but there was nothing. Raising her eyes, she stiffened in shock to see a few greyish, puffy clouds rising from the horizon. Holding her breath in hope, she watched those clouds come racing toward the farm, beginning to fill the sky and creating a different kind of wind from the dust storms.
Her heart began to thump, then to race. Could it really be? Those sure did look like rain clouds! Oh, John! Would he see? He was so intent on his task, his head was still bent so he couldn’t see up.
“John!” she screamed as loudly as she could. “JOHN! Look up! Look at the sky! Look! LOOK!”
John’s head came up, turned in her direction. She pointed up toward the clouds, and he swiveled his head in the direction she pointed. He stood stock still for several seconds, then turned and began to race toward her, waving his hat and yelling for sheer joy.
They met in the center of the yard, hanging on to each other as the drops of mercy from the clouds began to spatter against the hard, parched soil. Then it drizzled, and then it poured! Rain! Glorious, life-giving, thirst-quenching, well-filling, soil-healing, soul-healing, merciful rain!
They stood with their arms raised, letting the rain sluice down their tired bodies. Thoroughly wet, they turned into each other’s arms and hugged, then without saying a word, they waltzed to the rhythm of the falling rain until their feet were muddy and their clothes stuck to them. They laughed. They cried.
They thanked God.The rain would save the soil, and it would save their home.
It was a good day.