Monday, February 18, 2008


A cool rain has come to Charleston this morning. The forecast that was calling for strong winds and thunderstorms has been down graded to a steady rain, perhaps the first of many spring showers to come.

Now in early morning darkness Charleston has slowly begun to waken, and traffic is still sparse for today is Presidents day. Banks are closed as is the Post Office and many government offices but everything else is up and running including the sprinklers at the Coastal Carolina Savings Bank despite the steady rain.

I’ve always found sprinklers running in the rain one of mankind’s oddest achievements, like stoplights that show red for a painfully long time without another car in sight.

Long before sprinkler systems and traffic lights a plenty, a day of steady Low Country rain was a day off from work in the fields. Rainy days meant a time to catch up on some tractor maintenance or pull that starter off the pickup and fix the front door that has been sticking since fall.

A Monday rain was even better since week long projects had yet to be started and some things could wait. Years ago breakfast on a farm was an amazing adventure and many times I witnessed this daily occurrence that was normal to my farm raised cousins.

By 5:30 a half a dozen pick-up trucks were parked in the yard of the main farm house. As headlights illuminated the down pour, rain coats dashed up the gravel drive and were left in a red and yellow pile of dripping wetness just outside the side door that was well lit by a single light under the covered porch.

As best I could tell half of the young men who dripped their way into the large farm house kitchen were true family the other half adopted, but each gave my great aunt a quick good morning kiss on the cheek before sitting down to breakfast while outside the steady rain continued.

Of course this event happened on sunny mornings as well since tradition held that my great aunt fixed breakfast at the Coleman Farm every morning. Sons who lived down the road and next door came as did the hired help; all were treated like family, so for me it was sometimes hard to tell who was who.

Sausage, grits, scrambled eggs, coffee, biscuits and toast made the rounds. As a chair was pushed back and an empty plate removed, someone else would quickly fill the void. Most who departed did so with coffee in hand and a warm biscuit wrapped in a paper napkin in the pocket, which went a long way to make working in the rain nearly enjoyable.

One by one or in pairs they left heading out the door after a quick hug from my great aunt, into the pre dawn darkness. The sounds of bacon frying subsided and rain came harder as the last of the pickup lights twisted around the drive and down the road, at just after six in the morning, signaling the end to one of mankind’s greatest invention, breakfast.

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