Kitchen Garden Writing

Thunderstorm at the Farm

RURAL CEDAR TOWNSHIP— It was raining on me while I was unloading large bags of soil mix near the greenhouse when the phone in my back pocket rang. They were calling from the house to tell me that with all of the thunder and lightning, it wasn’t safe for me to be working outside. I should come to the house.

The severe weather warning on the country music radio station reported hail and rain to be worst in Kalona, Frytown, Washington and the southwest corner of Johnson County. It was heading our way. I figured we would be safe in the greenhouse, but unloaded the rest of the bags, parked my car and headed inside with to wait out the storm with the rest of the crew.

In the country, a thunderstorm can be perceived as a massive formation of clouds stretching from horizon to horizon, covering us like a large bowl. It is a perspective one can’t get within in a large cluster of homes, or in town. A sense that the storm has its own integrity, producing rain, lightning and thunder— a dominant force of nature— a commanding presence that covers us. One shouldn’t argue with that, however much confidence we have in our own endurance. There was fresh coffee and apple pie inside— and conversation. We re-scheduled the crew for tomorrow.

It was a gully washer. When we built our home, the construction project leader, who was a retired farmer, cut a number of swales in the slope around our house with a 1949 Ford tractor. When it really rains, we can see Lyle’s handiwork all around us, as the swales fill with water and our basement stays dry. The rain flows around us to the ditch and lake below us.

The rain continued into the early afternoon. The ground needs the moisture, and we need protection from the lightning. It would be better if the planting was done, but that is not how this growing season is unfolding.