At twilight last night—the first day of July—we went outside to gather the day's eggs and begin the process of closing up the flocks.
We were both going about our business in the summer chicken yard, Mary looking for eggs in the outside nestbox, me collecting the eggs from the main house, when I noted a strange sound coming from the south. It was not the sound of a car on the gravel road, nor was it the far-away sound of a truck on the highway. It was not an airplane, and it was not the rising of the wind.
We looked at each other.
It never occurred to me that the sound of rain approaching is different from the sound of the wind. It is a white noise, almost devoid of characteristics, made up of countless tiny little granular noises subsumed within one another. In contrast, wind is complex and dense, rich with layers of turbulence and harmonics; bigger chunks of sounds made by lots of large, chaotic things interacting.
We quickened our pace, hurriedly closing the gates behind us. "Can you see it yet?" We looked to the distant treeline, far to the south. As we looked, the treeline disappeared behind a grey wall. The sound became louder, more insistent. The nearer treeline disappeared, then the trees in the backyard. We ran and ducked beneath the overhang of the shed just as the rain reached us, laughing as the roaring deluge obscured the world around us and pounded the earth.
Then, no more than thirty seconds later, it diminished to almost nothing, moving on as quickly as it had arrived. The ground, so recently assaulted, was barely wet; beneath the trees, it had stayed dry. And the sound of rain leaving is nothing to compare with the sound of rain coming.
It's too bad, because we really needed the rain.