I walked last night under the dark of a starless night. A front was moving through which turned our morning white after a lovely glimpse of spring.
All of a sudden, upon my way, I was arrested by a noise. A quite natural noise really, yet without its natural cause. To my right, just off the walk, was a seasonal hosta bed covered with the leaf-fall from last autum and the later fall from a winter's beating. This patch was also roofed by low hanging branches of a redbud and hackberry trees. Now what I heard, I tell you with utmost sincerety, was the patter of tiny raindrops upon these leaves and the ground around, a pittering and crackling of the daintiest variety yet unmistakable and quiet clear in the still evening air.
Of course, my first inclination was that the rain had already begun yet with the fury of mice feet. I, most likely, had not been favored with a drop. I turned my face skyward and waited my turn. My turn did not come. No, precipitous moisture was in my future but not in my present.
Thus, the primary cause guessed at, questioned, and found wanting, my mind harkened back to the previous weekend. While parked, our auto had been the recipient of clear sticky sap drops from a soft maple feeling its oats. This dripping took place in the folds of the flint hills, paying no heed to decorum. For, I have knowledge that our friends in Iowa have yet to tap their sugar maples. This soft maple, however, was not waiting. "Now," I thought to myself, “could a sap letting have commenced on this warm spring night in our own neighborhood?" I stepped off my path to reach for the branches. Running my hand along various lengths, all felt dry to my touch giving no sign of the wooden rain. And still, the sound of rain continued.
As the ghost would be heard at Chesney Wold in Dicken's Bleak House, this sound was not abating at my movements and continued unabashed at my inquisitions. It would be heard!
Ah, but had I exhausted all avenues of discovery? I had not. What if I were to move on to the next yard to test the breadth of phenomenon? Could I distance myself far enough from the canopy to completely rule out arborous motives? These tests were easily accomplished, and what do you think I found? The grass and leaves gave the sound of falling rain in yards all along the block whether away from or near to trees, regardless of the buffalo or fescue grass varieties, and, as with rain, louder with leaves present, yet present without.
What a mystery! what a phenomenon! So rarely do I stumble upon phenomenons that, I must say, I am treasuring this one. Either I walked unseen and the grass felt free to grow at a remarkable leaf-moving clip or we are experiencing a great (and possibly epic) hatching of something in the soil. Don't tell me if you know. I rather like my phenomenon.
In the reasonable light of day
Roeland Park, KS
John Atkinson Grimshaw