We had no choice. The springtime meant showers, and many of the jobs could be done while it was raining. Sometimes we showed up at a spot in the sunshine, but then the sky would open up and we’d get soaked.
I often found myself under porches or ducking beneath eaves or standing in sheds. Sometimes, I would stay out in the rain just for the refreshing drench. If I was in the middle of weeding and trimming a rose bush, for example, I would stay put, because forcing my way through the thorns was worse than escaping a few raindrops.
The only job that I would stop completely in the rain was mowing the lawn. It wasn’t worth it. The wet grass would gum up the blades so bad that it took longer to stop and clean the thing out every few feet than it did to wait out the rain. And rainy days meant burning brush piles, so to this day, when the rain falls like it does now, I can close my eyes and see myself sitting on a bucket in a rain jacket, holding a cup of coffee. I can taste the coffee, even now. Hazelnut, little cream, lots of sugar, slightly burned.
A lot of times, we would pick the rainy days to make a plant run. We went to the local greenhouses, sometimes as far away as Bar Harbor or Blue Hill, just to buy plants for the various houses where we worked. I would always get mistaken for an employee at those places, and that made me smile. Most of the time, I could help the people that asked me questions.
Those were some of my favorite days. We’d get coffee, listen to music, talk about everything. My boss was twenty years older than me, and she was an old hippie. I mean that affectionately. We had a thing. It was more her thing than my thing, but she was beautiful, her long, dark hair streaked with strands of gray, and I was young and naive. Still, my heart would race when the rains came, and we would be stuck outside, our clothes sticking to our sweaty bodies, almost nothing left to the imagination.
One rainy day, we were working in a garden, and we somehow got on the subject of poetry. My boss asked me if I’d ever written any and I said I did. She asked me if she could read it. I hesitated. She told me not to be embarrassed, she wouldn’t judge me. I said that wasn’t it, I didn’t want her to think I’d written them about her. It was a stupid thing to say, but I was uncouth and inexperienced. She burst into tears. She told me not worry, she didn’t need to read it. This was her trip, not mine.
Sometimes, you have to garden in the rain.