Voices In the Rain

By , September 23, 2013

We’ve been so long without our normal rain that we’ve almost forgotten how to live with it. We’ve forgotten about the voices in the rain.

Up till this point, we’d had a pretty dry year. Many of our neighbors reported that their water sources dried up. We worried about our own running out, and have been conserving water as much as possible to avoid hauling 5-gallon jugs from the spring over on Letnikof Cove.

Then the rains came. One morning I hiked up to the winter water tank, opened the spigot, and listened. Inside, I heard the echoing plash of a half-open water hose filling a vast bucket. I then visited the summer water tank, watching as I approached for the flow of water down its side, where a full tank overflows through the broken top (the man who sold the tank to our predecessor said it would never freeze and break; it did just that the first winter after it was installed!). I saw nothing, but when I peeked under the tarp, I found the water level within millimeters of cresting the edge. It would achieve overflow long before evening.

By Saturday morning, our winter water tank had filled completely.

Our water crisis is over. We’re returning to normal. And, the voices have come back.

Spending so much time on this quiet “homestead” as I do, small noises become amplified extraordinarily. With the return of serious, steady rainfall, I think I hear voices around the cabin. Several times I’ve left off a task to go greet arriving visitors, only to find the dooryard empty.

The rain, falling through the forest canopy, drumming on the cabin’s metal roof, dripping in the buckets and rocks and puddles, creates a quiet cacophany of noises, many of them in the exact timbre of human voices. It’s sometimes pleasant, but often unnerving for a borderline hermit such as I.

I know that the phenomenon exists. Growing up in the rain, spending countless evenings beside running water, I should be used to hearing these voices. Being human, my brain sifts and sorts sensory data, searching for recognizable, understandable patterns, the most significant of which would be the voices of fellow humans.

And yet, because of my current lifestyle, I have to wonder if I might not be going a little bit nuts.

Thankfully, on the evening I contemplated this possibility, Michelle came home from work. She commented that all the way home, she’d heard voices in the forest, as she made her way home through the rain.

If I am going crazy, at least my wife is going with me.

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