Rain from April thunderstorms filled the rain barrel at the base of grandmother’s trailer. A steel metal drum rested on cinder blocks under a rain spout beneath her bedroom window.
An aluminum spouting ran the entire length of the pink trailer in which Esther Taylor lived. The spouting captured precious droplets of those thunderstorms that hit the tin roof with a slight drumming noise.
The spouting carried the fresh rain to a big black metal barrel, just a yard or two from a vegetable garden.
Esther used a rusty coffee can to carry water from the barrel to the plants which included blue potatoes. She poked holes in the bottom of the can with a nail and once said, as she was running down a row of radishes before it all drained out, “nothing is better than what God gives us slowly!”
Running quickly to her flowers with that can, she wobbled barefoot with muddy toes down rows of cabbage, scattering her captured thunder showers, days after the rain had fallen.
She worked from sunrise until it got too hot, always watering in the morning because “plants like it that way,” she explained to me in the manner that grandmother’s do.
“Did you hear God moving furniture last night?” she asked as I noticed the barrel was full and all the dead bugs and moths from atop the water were gone.
“That was thunder!” I said, not believing for a minute that someone was living in the clouds and moving a couch around.
On June mornings after mostly all April showers had ended, on my way from the old farmhouse, running past the chicken coop on a path in the yard where my bare feet had carved a brown trail, I’d stop to pick up a mulberry or two and drop them in the rain barrel.
I tried to be careful running though the green grass of the yard, as to avoid white patches of clover where yellow jacket bees were known to be.
The pain of their stings to tender toes was a mess—in between my toes a little stinger one day was planted. I screamed at the top of my little lungs– running all the way to Esther’s trailer.
I squished mulberries in a space where a tooth had been lost, happy that day I did not get stung getting past that big tree.
My little white body quivered at the rush of purple sugar upon my tongue, made from a mouth full of mulberries I found in the fresh grass. I didn’t bother eating around the little green stem each berry had, instead, like a cow, just put more in my mouth to kill the taste of bitterness from the stems.
Cold rain water trickled over the top of the barrel. I was tempted to jump in, but it was too cold. Instead I put my face in first, holding my nose, proving to myself that I could swim. Into the rain barrel I splashed my arms up to the elbows, rinsing my hands mostly clean of the purple stains. I knew not to touch Esther’s polyester pants when I got inside and hugged her leg. She made us cups of instant coffee despite what my mother had said about how chatty it made me.