Thursday, August 05, 2004

Rain on a Summer Day

The early hours of the morning had been interrupted with thunder so close it seemed like bein' inside a tin pot beaten with a sledgehammer.  Lightning broke the dark constantly like a mad photographer.  The animals in the barn were startled more than once and the milk cow bellowed her opinion with right smart regularity.

On rainy days a tin roof is a blessin'.  On a stormy night that tin is the only thing standin' between a man and the fury of Mom Nature.  On a morning like this a five "V" corrugated tin roof sure didn't seem like much protection.

Billy Gilbert wasn't one to fret much about the weather.  It was fine commentary when men gathered to sit and visit.  Weather was always a safe topic.  A bunch of men on a porch tended to hem and haw around hard subjects when they sat and visited.  This storm would be one discussed pretty often in the next few days.  As he waited the storm out in the comfort of his feather bed he dozed.  Old Dog wasn't afraid of loud noises but had curled up close to the side of Billy's bed when the storm started.  Billy had reached a hand down several times just to rub Old Dog's neck.  The rubbin' sure seemed to calm man and dog.

A real firecracker of thunder hit close and the room lit up for only a second.  On the tail of the thunder Billy heard the Frigidaire go off.  He figured the storm would hit the power eventually.  It happened a lot in the mountains.  For a long while there was only the sound of the rain hittin' the tin roof.  Once the power came back on and the old Frigidaire hummed back on.  The hummin' and the power faded pretty fast and the cabin was in darkness.

Most folks called Billy Gilbert "Uncle Billy".  Age and a bunch of family gave him that title not only out of courtesy but just because half the folks in Beloved, Kentucky were kin to him.  Uncle Billy Gilbert was the only boy left from his original family of twelve children.  He had two sisters left.  The sisters lived together near Beloved.  As he lay there, he remembered it was Monday.  Billy would usually spend Mondays with his sisters since his wife Del had died.  Mondays were and always had been washday.  The routine was usually the same, load up a basket of clothes, drive over to his sister's home and help them fill an old iron pot with water.  The pot sat in their yard as it had for near one hundred years.  Every Monday it was filled and a fire started under it to heat water for the wash.

Billy would carry buckets of hot water up to the porch to be poured into the washin' machine.  His sisters, Mag and Bess would start washin' whites first, them colors and finally work clothes and darks.  The same water was used for each load.

"Don't reckon we'll be doin' washin' today, Old Dog,” he said.

Old Dog heard and his tail beat softly on the poplar floor.  He lifted his head and scooted his nose under Uncle Billy's hand to get a free pat on the head.  As Uncle Billy patted absently he went on talkin'.

"No sir, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the power co-op took the better part of the day to get the 'lectric back.  Don't bother us none, does it?  Nope, we'll just lay right here and enjoy the fireworks.  That’s what we'll do.  Yes buddy.  We'll just enjoy the fireworks."

It seemed like the Lord heard Uncle Billy talkin' to Old Dog.  About a minute later the sky lit up and the biggest cracker of all broke over the cabin.  Uncle Billy and Old dog dozed off and on for the rest of the mornin'.  No sense in gettin' up and fumblin' around in the dark.

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