As it turned out, he couldn’t extricate himself from the glue and the clamps till just after 5, so I didn’t check the mail till 7:30 when we got back. It was close to dark by then; the clouds had been moving in since 4, and Harry said we’d have rain after midnight. The big corporate weather site had said not till this morning, but Harry has lived here all his life, so I tend to believe him, and not to fault him when he’s wrong. We are in what’s loosely called the Hudson Valley—the gentle swale that great river has cut over epochs, as it has wandered between the Litchfield Hills over in Connecticut, and the Catskills over here in New York. In fact, ours is the Rondout Valley, carved by that river between the obdurate conglomerate stone of the Shawangunks, the easternmost vestige of the old Appalachian range, and the Catskills. Because it’s a valley in a valley, weather is quixotic, and our own valley, formed by the Kripplebush Creek, is even more isolate and unpredictable. Often you can sit on the old metal lawn chair that’s on the uphill side of the barn, sunlight on cool mornings, shade on hot afternoons, and watch the thunderstorms rage in a line five miles north, marching west to east, for hours.
Then the susurration of the rain itself, bouncing off the leaves, changing to a higher-pitched hiss as it hits the roadway, and dropping an octave when it crosses the front yard and hits the metal roof J.C. and his crew put on last year. If you’re upstairs, you’ll hear the individual punctures of drops growing more and more frenetic until they merge into a full roar.