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The rain in Maine

No matter how dry the growing season, I water only two things in my garden. Sweet peas first, and then the celery. Celery likes to be wet and I have a weep-hose, so it takes a couple of hours to run off a barrel of water and it soaks into the ground around the roots where it can do some good. With the sweet peas, I punch crowbar holes and then fill the holes with water so, again, the roots are reached.

Water that runs off and evaporates does a disservice to the plants, which should be coping with the drought in their own way and sending down roots to find moisture. A ten-minute shower will grow more vegetables than all the hoses in town, and it's a poor plant that can't wait for the inevitable, if reluctant, shower.

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We're having a good rain right now as I report. For several days the radio sharpies have been parroting the 30 percent chance of afternoon showers, without showers, and last night they said it would be fair. The nighttime drizzle ripened to rain by breakfast, so I pulled on my weather gear and fared forth to hear the general approval. Everything was standing up straight and saying Thanks.

And I fell to remembering the time I went to call on Grandfather, sneaking an afternoon from my affairs to see how he was doing all alone up on the farm. Everybody was younger then, and he had some eight or ten acres in row crops - goodies he could door-to-door up ''to the city.''

On my way I got caught in a rousing good summer shower, and the tin lizzie of those days had no windshield wipers. Mine had only half a windshield, anyway. I pulled off the road to wait out the rain and commotion, and drove on to the farm as the disturbance moved easterly and the sun was about to break out again. Rainbow time. The fury is spent and the fading thunder rolls in hollow rumbles - very different from the crash and hullabaloo of a shower on the make. There was still moisture in the air, so I ran for the kitchen door expecting to find Grandfather in his rocker by the window, waiting out the rain.

He was not there, and a yellow cat slept on his rocker. The current farm mutt , one Bojangles, trembled behind the range in the manner of a foolish dog who hates thunder. Bojangles would have been down cellar except that the cellar door was closed. I called upstairs, got no answer, and concluded Grandfather was at the barn.

He was not at the barn. The pigs were and the hens were. Cows and sheep would be at pasture, but the bull was at his stanchion and lowed at me. I lowed back.

A rack of hand-mowed Hungarian was on the barn floor, and I surmised it had been brought in just before the shower - green fodder to please the cows when they came from pasture for the night. The horse that must have fetched this fodder was in her box stall, and she squealed at me. I replied in kind. Grandfather never owned a horse that liked me. So where was Gramps?

The shower was now over, and I stepped out the back door of the barn and saw him coming. He was away up by the orchard gap, beyond the gardens. The gardens and fields and orchards, sopping wet, were now bright under the emerging sun, and there was a rainbow over Gramps's head - one end in the tomato patch. Gramps came slowly along - he had no hat on, his shirt was open at the neck. He was as wet as his fields. Soaked. Water dripped from his beard and the ends of his fingers.

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He had not been caught out in the shower. As I surmised, he had brought in the daily load of Hungarian and was at the barn when the first clap of thunder sent Bojangles into hiding and brought on the rain. It was the end of a long dry spell, and the world was ready for refreshment. Grandfather, joining in the glee and gratitude, simply walked out into the wet and moved along to see how his sweet corn and cukes, tomatoes and beans, were reacting to the beneficence. His boots squished as he joined me at the barn, and stating his pleasure at the surprise of my presence he made a brief greeting.

''Everything is so glad!'' he said, ''and I had to get out and enjoy it!''

We pitched the Hungarian into the mangers then, and after a bit we walked up the lane together to let down the pasture bars and bring home the cows. Bushes and grass were wet, so I got wet, but not so wet as Grandfather.

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