Last Sunday morning it was raining at Caswell Beach. I sat in this chair on the porch and drank my coffee, watching the water birds diving for their breakfasts. It was very calming to look out and observe nature doing what it does, undisturbed by the pandemic or politics.
I lingered longer than usual–because that is the gift of rain, slowing things down and pulling the world in close, encouraging you to just sit and watch. There was a bit of chill and my cozy jacket brought a comforting warmth like a mother’s hug. The rhythm of the steady rain drops hitting the collecting pools beneath the edge of the roof, and the gentle rocking of my chair were the music in that scene.
I observed a pair of herons diving for fish then perching side-by-side on one of the piers. Eventually one of the birds flew away and one stayed. I watched to see their story unfold. Would she (that’s how I labeled the bird) return to him (the waiting bird) or would she be off and away?
After a while, the bird returned to the pier beside the bird who’d waited. They took off, flying next to each other, upward then quickly dipping down close to the surface and swooping back up with a circular pattern. I’ve never been a Birder so I’m not good at describing the flight of birds, but I loved watching them, my mind quickly comparing them to human couples in their flight.
Later, another bird flew in and seemed to want to interrupt their twosome. The pair flew off together. I watched to see if they’d return, but they didn’t. They moved on and I was ready to as well. The rain appeared to be settled in for the day. I was disappointed because I couldn’t ride my bike over the grounds of Fort Caswell– all two-hundred-fifty acres. But then I remembered what I’d learned on one of my solo journeys.
That June, I traveled to Jekyll Island, Georgia. For the first couple of days it was sunny and I rode about that island and spent time at the historic village around the Jekyll Island Club. I tell about that in detail in Chapter Four,
“Child’s Play” of He Heard My Voice. Like Ft. Caswell, being in a community that was built during the 1800s put me in a pensive mood, wondering what it was like to live back then, imaging the people walking about the grounds. Fort Caswell was established for military purposes; the Jekyll Island Club was a site for wealthy Northern industrialists to come to the South during the winter months and enjoy leisurely activities.
All these years later, both islands were places for me to relax and renew. In my memoir, I describe my reaction to a day ruined by rain:
“The next morning, my last day at Jekyll, I awoke to rain pelting against my window, the wind blowing the crepe myrtle branches at almost tropical storm force.” ( p 80). While the storm was mild on Caswell, it did have the same look of settling in for the day. The next words from the memoir, reminded me of how I felt last Sunday.
“I was disappointed that I wouldn’t get to be outside, to ride around the island one last time. But now that I’ve played, maybe it’s time to rest, I thought, a nice day to sleep, read, and journal.” (p 80)
I remembered the advantages of a rainy day when you’re on a vacation– even though you’ve pictured all sunshine.
“Now I could write all day, sitting on my bed in my pajamas, settled in as if there were a winter blizzard with no way out, just writing without looking at the clock without needing to put in a load of laundry or start dinner. The next day when I’d leave Jekyll and drive to the Weymouth Center in Southern Pines, I would arrive rested and ready to work on my novel that was needing some serious attention.” (p81)
I spent last Sunday writing and finally returned to work on my sequel memoir– as I’d promised Mattie Belle. It was relaxing because I wasn’t driven to be outside all day, enjoying the fall weather before we’re forced in by the winter cold.
On Monday, the sun was shining and I got that final bike ride around the Caswell compound. My morning quiet time was spent on my bike, occasionally singing the beloved words of a favorite hymn. That same song came to me fifteen years ago while riding at Jekyll Island. With no one in sight, the Caswell grounds almost empty, I broke into singing,:
“Morning by Morning New Mercies I See,
All I have needed Thou hand has provided,
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto Me.”
I was content when I left Caswell, having enjoyed both the sunshine and the rain. My hope for you is that you’ll enjoy this rainy Sunday– and if it’s not raining where you live, just imagine that it is. Sit and listen, recover from the activities of the week and weekend, and marvel in God’s mercies, new every morning.
Referenced portions from Chapter Four: