Reprint: 2010 First Rights to Farm and Ranch Living
On occasion I play a tape of a rainstorm. The tape brings back memories of sitting with my father, the farmer, on our front porch through every rainstorm of my childhood, just listening and watching.
This is where I learned to love the sound of rain pelting the tin roof above us. Straight ahead, we watched as the rain rushed forcefully in the dirt road, making little gullies along its way. Sometimes the sky showed off its fearful thunderbolts of light.
In the aftermath, a quietness seemed to hush the rain and lightning. Birds started peeking out from bushes, stealing into the quiet with their loud chirps, as if to say, “It’s safe now!” Even the sun snatched a glimpse of the earth through the clouds. Pop and I were content to scurry from one end of the porch to the other, looking for our rainbow. We always found it.
The delights of water weren’t always found under a porch roof though. Sometimes they were found under the open sky.
As long as there wasn’t any lightning involved, Mom allowed us to run barefoot in the rain. Oh, how my siblings and I would giggle as the wet grass squished through our toes! We’d stand near puddles, stomping our feet and splashing everyone nearby. We were never too exhausted to run wild in the rain.
From little puddles in the road, we graduated to big puddles: the pond. Winter months we ice skated. Mom always found us ice skates at auctions. Even when they didn’t fit properly, we’d stuff them with old socks, push our little feet in them and wobble skate the best we could. Even without skates, we’d run across the ice in rubber boots. Landing on our rears was more exciting than not.
One of my first recollections of the pond was fishing. I’d find a long stick and Mom gave me a string and the biggest safety pin she could find. Once attached to the stick, it made the grandest fishing pole ever to a child of six.
When we were older, we were allowed to jump into the pond at the deep end. Our jump start came from the large willow tree nearby. If you took a running sprint while hanging onto a willow branch, you could fling your body out and over the pond. The splash was the loudest any of us ever heard.
One year, a highway was built across the span of our meadow with a large four foot drainage pipe beneath it. We learned to dam one end of the pipe with twigs and stones to make a swimming pool. This worked especially well after a good rainstorm. The small creek that ran through the meadow soon filled our pool. I don’t know that any of us learned to swim, but we spent hours pretending.
The winding creek in the meadow was an amusement park in and of itself. The creek led from the pond to a lower level under the dirt road, through the meadow, to the large pipe under the highway and onto the other side. From the pond area, I loved to perch myself on the grass and watch the “Little Niagara” tumble down the stones and listen to its whisperings.
Near the house, Mom’s small fish pond could spellbind us as much as stone throwing. It was a simple hole in the ground with large stones surrounding it. It was sheer joy watching the goldfish scurry when Mom or one of us fed the fish. A community tin cup hung on the spigot by a long string. No one, who visited or walked by, ever got sick from our shared cup. How we’d love the taste of that fresh, sparkling spring water!
As I write, the rain has stopped. I think I’ll take my shoes off and run out on the grass and once again enjoy the simple joys of water.
Carole Christman Koch grew up in Berks County and has been published in numerous publications. She has a passion for writing and has many stories from growing up on a farm to raising children to humorous stories about her and her husband to everyday stories to season stories and more.