My granddaughter sulked as she got into the car.
“What’s up?” I asked her.
“The rain, it’s ruining everything,” she frowned.
“Like what?” I played devil’s advocate.
“Going to the playground,” she began and ended with a list of things she would do if it weren’t for the rain.
“I like the rain,” I told her. Sometimes I enjoy being ornery. Frequently, grandchildren will be indulgent when it comes to their grandparents' attitudes. Today, she wasn’t having any of it.
“Why?” she stared out the window and watched silver drops slide down the glass.
“I garden. It doesn’t rain very much. The plants get thirsty and when it rains, they perk up and you can hear them sing.”
From the rearview mirror I could see that she cut her eyes at me as only an eight-year old can.
“Really,” I assured her.
The rest of the drive was quiet. I parked in the garage and motioned for her to follow me outside.
“It’s raining,” she looked up at the sky and pointed as if I hadn’t noticed I was getting wet.
“Yep, but this will only take a minute.” I tugged her arm and led her to the herb garden in front of the house. We stood on a patch of thyme. I bent down and picked a sprig and held it to her nose. She took it from me. I picked a leaf of basil, a pungent sprig of rosemary, a little pineapple sage, some soft oregano, anise, lavender, then mint. Each one I handed to her to smell. “Fresh, huh?” I asked.
She wrinkled her nose. “I’m getting wet.”
It was a statement made to elucidate the hard of knowing, of which I had just become. For future reference purposes, eight year olds can challenge the imagination on so many levels.
“Yep,” I smiled. “Listen.” We stood very still. Another benefit of being a grandparent is that your grandchildren don’t argue as much with you even if you ask them to stand outside in an herb garden while it rains. “Hear them singing?”
She shook her head.
“Listen.” Her hair was getting matted by now and rain was beginning to drip down the side of her face. “Now?” I asked her.
“Can we go in now?” It was more of a statement than a question, but I took it for a request.
“Ok,” I smiled. Inside, I toweled her off, got her into dry clothes, and sat her in front of a movie with popcorn and apple juice. Did she hear the plants sing? I’ll never know for sure. What I do know is when I’m 89 and someone complains about my having lost my mind, she won’t believe them because she spent an afternoon standing in the rain in an herb garden listening for the plants to sing. The thought of that makes me happy.