It was a brief respite but last Sunday’s rainstorm provided us with hope during a long dry winter.
The evidence of that hope was everywhere as the wife and I rose before daylight Monday for a trip to Lubbock. The night before the rare February thunderstorm had left us eating our supper by candlelight after the lights went out for nearly an hour.
As we left the house a glowing full moon hung low in the clear western sky. Out on Cacahuate Road, with the full moon behind us and dawn coming in the eastern sky, a decaying building showed the ribs of its roofless rafters. A short distance further the ribs of a home under construction will provide for a new generation in the sandhills.
Night birds swooped across our highway path taking advantage of the final hour of darkness to find the day’s meal.
I noticed a home with lights on and two vehicles warming up. A rural family getting ready to meet the day, either in town or at a nearby dairy. Just down the road their neighbor was already out checking his cattle, pickup idling through the pasture with the headlights off no doubt to preserve night vision so he could find his bovine charges.
As the sun began to rise, standing water was noticeable in the fields and ditches. Not a lot of water but it was wet. On the highway, smaller puddles were lit by the rising sun and appeared silver like pooled mercury.
My wife, seeing the puddles, was curious if the rain would bring the toads we listen to in the summer out. I told her I guessed it was too early and the soil too cold for the amphibians to immerge from their underground refuges where they burrowed in to sleep for the winter.
The sunrise came just past Muleshoe. The first rays of sun hit the towers of the power generation plant northeast of that city turning the structure golden and highlighting the huge clouds of steam the plant was giving off.
The dairy east of Muleshoe appeared in strange geometric shapes as the shelters in the lots were silhouetted against the sunrise. A flock of birds, just off their roost, looked like a moving black cloud above the dairy buildings, moving, even undulating together as one body.
Ahead, the last sunrise treat of the morning appeared as the outline of the Sudan water tower, against a pastel sky, came into sight.
I saw one of those hunting night birds standing in the golden light in the dried grass along the road. Success in the form of a mouse or rabbit would sustain the hawk for another day. Likewise the unexpected showers will sustain the dry prairie sod as it has for centuries — a little bit at a time.
Karl Terry writes for Freedom New Mexico. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org