A couple dealing with the unrelenting moisture clouds that are infiltrating their new property.
It Rains More Now
by Jake Troxell
“It rains more now,” my wife repeats; it’s out of habit at this point. Her pinky finger slips inside the tiny grey cloud floating past her head. The delicate touch releases a sprinkle into the puddle drowning her rubber boots. I take note of the hundreds of little puffs moseying around our lawn (lake might be a better word) relieving themselves as they drift. A cold breeze shifts them a foot closer to me. I exhale, now realizing I’d been holding a breath in for some time.
The high clouds were always up there wherever we lived: blotting out the sun to save our skin from freckles, contorting themselves for entertainment into shapes of things we dreamed of seeing, and carrying with them teardrops shed over days locked inside away from the rainfall.
But the low clouds – they were different.
We moved to this brick rancher in May when the trees surrounding it were lush with dense green leaves. We were harder to find in the summer – harder to get to from the low clouds’ low altitude. In the summer we’d watch the clouds drift into the leaves and deliver the sweet droplets of hydration. Our secret base was exposed when the towering trees held their Autumn election and agreed, as they always do, to shed their leaves once more. Their complicated customs and electoral college don’t mean much to outsiders like me, but a man with a picket sign and a crucifix covered in ivy explained to me once it is because trees are perverts destined for the fires of hell.
The deciduous nudists stripped down and left the more conservative pine, and spruce evergreens embarrassed once more. I do my best to avert my stare from their now sexualized limbs, limbs that in fairer weather had hidden the clouds’ asexual mother and father from view: two matching cooling towers slurping from the river to ease their atomic tummy aches and giving birth all the while to listless spawn that bore very little resemblance to their parent’s hyperboloid shape.
“It does rain more,” I say in a monotone voice, slowly pressing my foot into a low hanging puff of moisture. I can almost feel it beg as my rain boot forces it beneath the waves of hydrogen and oxygen.
“Don’t do that,” my wife scolds me in a sweet voice that is more colorful than mine. I apologize and I mean it, it was thoughtless, and I fear parts of me are so waterlogged they’ve become cruel. The now waterlogged cloud drifts along the top of the lake’s surface. I’m unsure if it is floating in the air or on the water.
I worry if the elm tree is judging me but am too embarrassed to look. Instead, I look west at the cause of our rainy influx: the three automated miniature helicopter swivel through the sky, herding the poofs of white away from my neighbor’s perfectly manicured lawn; maintained in warmer seasons by a sprinkler system offering just enough drink for their blades of grass to thrive.
The blades of our half-acre are buried inches beneath the floodwater; the greenery preserved like a sculpture in resin. I can hear both of our sump pump’s firing on overdrive trying unsuccessfully to rescue our basement from the running flood waters. The faux-wood paneling installed sometime in the 1980s has made it clear that it would prefer not to grow wrinkled like a toddler too long in the bathtub. I promise to straighten it out, but I feel like we can’t solve our interior problems until we address our exterior problems.
Our dog splashes happily as he herds another drifting cloud across our half-acre lake into the white structure resting in the center of our lawn. I open the latch and let the puff slide in; slam it immediately, so nothing slides out. The dog is useless for automotive repairs and home renovations, but this is something his online therapist assured us he can do. We both call out “Good boy,” but I choke and gargle the words as a low cloud floats down my throat. It tastes like dense mildew, not fresh, and light like you would hope.
We always have to check before opening the front door, but sometimes I’m in a rush and forget. Sometimes there is a cloud waiting for you to walk through it, leaving you late for work with a soaking wet shirt. Other times, a cloud is waiting to sneak past you and release its load in the foyer. An annoying little mess.
My wife puts her arm around my waist, and I sling mine over her shoulder. It won’t be long now until the container is filled. We watch the helicopters use their blades to fan the clouds in our direction. It’s an expensive solution, especially for new homeowners. We asked the neighbor to send the clouds out towards the back of her property into the open fields, but she just smiled and assured us the old owners never had a problem. I demonstrated the problem to her, and she insisted the helicopters were all working how they should. I called the township to complain, and they recommended we purchase our own helicopters at a discounted rate from the township building. They’re tree lookers; every last one of them.
Instead, for a fraction of the price, we invested in the used container and a trailer hitch. It won’t fix anything. It won’t dry our soggy socks. It won’t stop the water from invading, but some things are more important than floods.
Soon the frost will come, and the low cloud hatchlings will birth fresh snow. Soon we will open the container on our neighbor’s front steps in the middle of the night. The helicopters will not work when the air is below freezing. When she awakens in the morning, she’ll open her front door to a stampede of dense clouds.
“It snows more now,” my neighbor will say as the blizzard swirls through her living room into her kitchen. We’ll spend the day skating on our thin ice.