It rained last night.
There is nothing more nourishing to the garden than a good spring rain. And there is nothing more satisfying to the gardener than to see life coming to be after a gentle soaking rain. A warm spring rain brings clarity to life all around. The air is filled with the happy chirping of song birds and the loud quarrels of turkeys on the hills. Pine trees change to a darker shade of green. The garden grows several inches overnight. All around, life bursts from everywhere, up from the ground, down from trees, from every pore of the earth itself. The rain cleanses the last remaining memory of a long winter and heralds the coming of a warm season.
I make my journey into the garden. Even if it is only three steps out the front door, it can take me a whole morning.
I pick my way amid the earthworms that cover the walkway. Earthworms come out after a good rain to seek warmth of the cement. Should I send them back to earth before sunrise or should I leave it to the children rise to their favorite garden chore? Rescuing earthworms after rain is a job that delights them to no end. A pair of obese robins dot around poking and pulling in the front yard, diligent in their feeding and oblivious to my presence. All robins seem obese here. And they will have a busy day ahead after the rain.
The nesting bluebirds are out at this early hour, the female sitting on her usual spot, on the trellis three feet away from her nest, head bowed, lost in thought. This is her morning routine. Does she take this moment for herself, before everyone else rises, to collect her thoughts for the day? That would be a very clever bird.
I leave her alone to her thoughts and bend down to check on the tulips in full bloom. Raindrops quiver at the nooks of their glossy leaves and the cups of their flowers. Crystal drops of transparency. I should show this to the children when they get up. It will be a wondrous sight when the morning sun shines on it. Would it make a great drinking fountain for butterflies? The azalea bush on the right side of door is ready to bloom. The buds are pregnant with promises and will burst with orange fury very soon.
As I dawdle this pleasant time away checking on things around me, I think of cherries still in full bloom. Did the rain wash away the petals last night? When the wind picked up, did the petals flutter in the air like fluffy snowflakes? What a sight it would be to stand under a cherry tree when its petals fall in the spring rain! Would it have inspired exultation or melancholy? How do people feel when they trudge by the fallen blossoms in the rain-sodden path? Do they see the life brought by a spring rain? Do they see the fickle and fleeting nature of beauty? Do they see time itself pass in front of their eyes?
I ponder all these questions as I wander through the garden. The earth smells so good. It is entirely a different smell from when it is dry, but just as good. Better, in fact. It smells sweet. I inhale deeply, not sure whether the sweetness is enhanced by a pot of star jasmine blooming by the door.
Times like this, I had better not waste in wandering thoughts but focus on pleasures of the senses.
Still, I cannot help but remember a poem by ancient Chinese poet Meng Hau Lan:
“I awoke from a deep sleep in a spring night
To find myself surrounded by singings of birds
The wind blew and it rained in the night
I wonder how many petals fell in the rains?”