It wasn’t raining hard when we left—it wasn’t raining at all, really, just a light mist that seemed to emanate from everywhere rather than down from the sky itself. Very Portland weather. I had brought it with me. It had been windy earlier, windy enough that the wind in the trees sounded like screaming. Here’s how I know I’ve settled into the ranch, and really left the city: every little noise stops sounding like voices. Sometimes it takes a day, sometimes it takes an hour. That day I was wound up so tight from all the other parts of my life it felt like it would take me an eternity to settle down. So I whistled for Cedar, and we went for a walk.
I didn’t want to go too far, but far enough that I could feel my legs stretch and my lungs protest at the altitude—maybe to the Orchard, I think to myself—and then I try to let go of that goal and just see how far I got. The fields were drawn and brown, looking a little pinched around the edges by winter, and I didn’t see any animals. Not even the redtailed hawk was there to greet me. They must hate the mist as much as I do, I thought a little sourly. But who wouldn’t? It was the creeping kind of cold that slips down into your collar while your head’s turned, the kind of precipitation you can’t look in the face. Not a good kind.
I start to lose my crankiness at the pond—it doesn’t take much—and when I hit the stretch of road Sam saw those bull snakes above, I’m already working out the problem I got stuck on in my writing before I left the cabin. Everything will be alright. I’m so lost in my own head I don’t notice that the rain heard me complaining and decided to give me a piece of its mind. The sky came on with a vengeance, pouring rain in the sudden way only a real storm can do. Cedar started running like mad, and I’m not much better, except I charge for a little stand of pine trees to sit under. I tuck myself into the hollow at the base of one of them, my back against the trunk, and Cedar wedges himself onto my lap. He’s from Idaho, you know. He hates the rain.
We sit like that for a while, waiting out the worst of it while it carries on around us. My wool coat is wet, but I remember my uncle telling me that wool will keep you warm even when it’s wet, so I think I’m okay. I think about the many ways I’ve seen the field in front of me: in summer, in bloom, with elk in it, at sunset, with friends, with my family, with Remi chasing ground squirrels through it in the spring. Then I think of nothing, I just listen to the rain and the sound of Cedar whining. I watch the field and the water and the way the dirt sucks up the rain. I settle down, settle in.
And when we finally unfold ourselves from our shelter, I think I’ve been wholly remade by the rain. A new person entirely emerges, not the me I was before. Everything is glittering, bright and golden, and I am among that number.