Rainwater puddles in the backyard, making muddy pools out of my garden beds. It’s April, but the thermometer still thinks it’s February. Where tulips and peonies should be sprouting, ice grows around the edges of the deep puddles — little crystal gardens in themselves.
I am waiting for spring, for the moment when the buds burst into bloom, when the dreary grayness of winter is replaced with the green and fuchsia and yellow of life.
Rain makes the waiting hard.
I am also waiting to hear the wail of new life — to hold a tiny, angry, squirming body close to my chest and finally examine those legs that have been kicking me in the ribs for the last three months.
Rain makes the waiting hard.
Sheets of icy water pouring from the sky keep me from doing the things I want to do. I can’t get my hands in the dirt while the sun warms my shoulders. I can’t fill my van with plants from the nursery and rush home to set them in the dirt, plotting and planning how they will show best when they grow in. I can’t do anything but wait.
Instead, I prop gardening catalogs open on my swollen belly and dream of brushing my fingers across the feathery foliage of tall cosmos, or breathing in the heady scent of a climbing rose as it ambles over my trellis.
I know the rain will eventually stop, and once again, my garden will be full of sunshine. The wet weather will have hydrated the soil, making it ready to support all kinds of plants. Because of this rain, my tomatoes will be ripe and juicy in August. My lilies will brighten my garden in June. The sweet scent of my lilac bush will waft through my windows and soothe a fussy newborn in May.
This rain — this cold, unforgiving rain — is nurturing the beauty that is to come.
But the waiting, the wanting, is still hard.
Three weeks from my due date, my belly is so unwieldy that it is nearly impossible for me to kneel on the floor, let alone kneel in my garden to plant. There are two of us inhabiting a body made for one.
One of us stumbles around, cursing the pain in her hips, the pain in her groin every time she moves. One of us rolls over, bounces his head on a nice, soft bladder, and goes back to sleep. For good measure he scrapes his fingernails against the sides of his home, like a boy running a stick along an iron fence. Thump, thump, thump.
One of us is not amused.
I imagine holding a little pair of hands and looking into those tiny clouded eyes. I dream of stroking a downy head and examining every finger and toe attached to the little chicken limbs that are so characteristic of newborns.
But instead, I spend five or six hours having warm-up contractions, only to have them peter out, leaving the baby still snugly tucked in my womb.
One morning I will wake up, and spring will have arrived. The sun will shine. The trees will bloom.
One morning I will wake up, and the practice contractions will be the real thing. The baby will be born. And he will be beautiful.
But really, the rain can stop any time now.