21 August 2001
As the working day closes, and the shades of night spring from their recesses of flight, a silent army lies in wait; lurking below ground, nestled in gardens, camouflaged and tangled in stands of long grass. Some chained, some spiked, others tied into long lines of tube from which flows their life giving cargo, together they gauge the sun and the time left until their work begins. Pop up turrets of salvation for fields of foreign invaders, who have lain immobile under their gaze: resplendent, patient, beaten down, or dying under the rising and falling sun, the blessing and curse of their life, expectant of the miracle to come. Others, too, watch over them, perched atop their spires, surveying the carpet of their wards, irresolute, majestic, glistening with sweat from their long nightly toils.
All lay in waiting, silent, as unmoving as graven statues looked over ruined civilisations tossed into the realms of the past. About their feet lie vast oceans of their own making, drowned palaces from kingdoms of ants, and clustered in nooks and bends, the dewy white, open aired homes of spiders, their eyes peering out into the gathering darkness, dreaming of the feast to come if only they could manage to stay out of the way of the great spray of life that would soon come.
The world lies quiet, expectant, unsure if tonight the behemoths will spring into life, pouring out their loads onto the world. Some call it a mockery of nature, a stretching of the odds in favour of voracious interlopers, while others, more opportunistic, consider it a gorging feast of growth and thirst, a tiny turning of the wheel of life in favour of those bold enough to take it, and make of it what they can. Life is brief, fleeting, a rainbow in the spray of time, slipping through seconds past, to be savoured as it falls, honoured in its memory, and praised in its future of possibility.
Arise, fair machines, under silent command, lift, turn, hiss out your load. Water, water, it pushes you forth. Your rat-a-tat-tat echoes into the night, raining not a shower of steel death, but droplets of pure life, falling on ground cracked and dry, barren of green, or in lush steamy forests of growth, stalks and heads raised to a now set sun, but here, at night, reveling in the shower as the cool drops run shivering down their length onto the ground, who, with its magical call, drag the drops down, to fade slowly into its porous skin, or to bounce and skip in small mushrooms of water, in places where moisture already lies patiently waiting for the already soaked earth below to beckon it downward in for its long journey below.
And as the circles of water fly, the waiting now passed, insects rush forth from their rest. To wing, to sky, a dash through the rain, a chance for those that can to escape the onslaught, to land again in a place of peace, where the quiet revelry of clicking and ticking, quiet conversations of hello and goodbye, can continue in gentle tones without the interruption of the tumult from above.
And the others, bound to the ground, unable to escape on papery wings, must stand with heads uplifted and face the rain. The clever, the quick, those with long experience, stutter forth with searching, crawling legs to begin their ascent of the heights within their grasp, where they can rest, toes out of the water, in dreaded fear that they will dissolve as though a witch of the west possessed them, melting, melting, with the pretties of the garden looking on, unmoving, uncaring, content only to dazzle with their colour, now muted in the night air. They know the little deaths are sad, unneeded, a little tragedy in every case, the hapless insect a sacrifice, stunned, dashed, carried away in a shattered crystal drop, the shards exploding out in offering to the greater rain above.
The pretties look down, washed in the falling tears, weeping, rejoicing, remembering life is in balance, for already they feel the stirring of growth in their stalky support, and the petals of their burden, outstretched, shimmer in silvered glory in the grey night. The stars and moon in the pale sky twinkle and dance in the trembling drops as they fall cascading over leaf, and twig, down strands of webbing, coalescing in dark pools in the shadows of night.
The stars and moon in the pale sky twinkle and dance in the trembling drops, little eyes of night reflecting the whirling spectacle below.
Time passes by under the shower until the earth has drunk its fill and pushes the water back. Small droplets melting together, flowing across the open air veins of the ground, merging into trickles, currents, raging streams, arteries of water washing over everything, a flood of destruction and renewal.
Desperate ants, flailing as they are swept from the blades of grass and flushed out of their earthy nest, ride to destruction, clutching, grasping for support, cast adrift helpless, husks of the dead floating in a watery graveyard. And washed with them, the tops of headless grass, decapitated in the name of fashion, a peach fuzz covering for a balding earth. Fresh cut, green, still budding with life, they serve their last purpose as the life raft for marooned insects until tey beach on distant shores of concrete, bumping, tossing, piling up into dam walls to hinder the water behind, raising its level further, inundating the outstretched fields.
Errant leaves sail across the waters, once dry and brown, pushed by small breezes, twirling, spinning, scattering amid the hail of droplets.
Through the night the sprinklers toil. Dazed but methodical, turning ever on in dizzying circles, flinging the water out in great arcs.
Dawn is calling, their time is near. Others have already fallen into silence, great beasts of flesh clamping their life lines off as easily as they had started it. Forming out of the darkness, giants splashing through the oceans, they stumble out through the darkness, cursing as the spray washes over them, and in revenge they cut the precious flow off in a shudder of pipe. Instantly the night falls to silence, the only sound the frowning of the stars over head marveling at the rain without clouds, and the quiet chorus of insects singing to the hidden sun.