Pouring rain on a tin roof. It’s been sixty-two years, but I remember the sound and the sensation. We were visiting my grandmother in Schoolcraft, Michigan. The house had been the family home for several generations. A historical site and a clandestine stop on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. The basement with its steep stone steps was eery and frightening to me that summer. The house had a living room with plenty of mahogany wood rocking chairs with cane wicker seats and back, and a parlor with a shining ebony grand piano and ferns on plant stands that cascaded to the hardwood floor. We were only allowed in the parlor accompanied by our grandmother. The running water in the kitchen came from a hand pump and drained onto the Hydrangeas just beyond the kitchen window. There was a wood burning stove in the kitchen. But a refrigerator not an Ice Box. [s] I loved that old house. I would sit and rock in the living room and imagined the stories that were lost in the cracks of the walls and floors. In time house with its architectural uniqueness became protected and it continued to stand intact long after my grandmother died.
My grandmother, a proud woman, had once applied to the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) but was rejected. Her family had fought for the British. Even so, she was American through and through. She made lemon meringue pies for the 4th of July celebrations. No tears in her meringue.
That late June night, I was 6, my brother was 9. We shared a double bed that was so high off the floor that we had three steps to climb. A chamber pot under the bed. The room was small on the second floor. There was what appeared to be an old traveling truck on the far wall, maybe 18 inches beyond the foot of the bed. It appeared to be a truck but there was no bottom to it. With the lid open we could see the dining room below. With the lid open heat rose to the second floor. Otherwise no heat. Outside the window, the pantry below had a old tin roof.
I loved the high bed. I loved the chill of the night. That night, it began to rain and the drops played their slow percussion on the tin outside and below. The sound of a snare drum with its marching cadence. Then faster and faster and the rain poured down and the percussion roared and goosebumps rose on my arms and neck and I was in heaven.
This last Sunday night while we were in the country, I woke at 3:20 a.m. to that pounding percussion. The rain poured down on the tin roof of our country cottage. I laid there listening. Remembering. Getting lost in the memories and in the feelings and in the innocence and in the wonder . . . and I laid there being my child again. It all came back,that night. It pounded back pouring the memories into me. I welcomed my child, and we just laid there together for what seemed forever. I’ve missed him. I realize I need him now. He has something that I need now. So I welcomed him to my new world. I don’t want to leave him behind as I had once done. This time, he doesn’t want to be left behind either. It must have been 4:00 maybe later when I — when we — slipped off to sleep again. I woke at 7:00. Smiling.
Monday morning, July 20. Colombian Independence Day. Clear. Bright. Eye squinting bright. Balmy but fresh. Refreshing. Country blue sky. No clouds. The greens sizzled. Independence. Freedom is a grand thing. Freedom from is liberating and exciting. Freedom to is finally thrilling.
We had a memorable four days in the country.