Old Rain

Every childhood has a Radley house, a Boo around the corner opening our eyes to a world that doesn’t appear or work the way we thought it does or will.

Old Rain spooked my little world. Some said he was a freakish child abandoned by a troupe of carnies, others said he was a lost baby Bigfoot come south. When he wasn’t brooding in a boarded-up house in Pittsboro, he haunted the woods and hollows feeding the creeks and streams that make the Skuna River.

I don’t know why we called him Old Rain, but what else is the Skuna or any other river for that matter except rain that’s found its way from hills to the bottoms and over-wintered in owl-haunted sloughs, distilled and aged, steeped in the character of the land–an inspiration of earth itself?

We lose imaginary monsters under the baggage of adulthood, so I tucked Old Rain away after finding far more frightening things than furtive whisperings on lonely pathways.

Now I believe he was a faunus of the little river bottoms and low wooded hills that my Chickasaw ancestors knew and loved. They would call him a poboli, one of the hidden people of the woods; my Welsh ancestors would call him a woodwose, both beings living vestiges of the vital, spirit of the old forests which were themselves a manifestation of divinity on earth.

Now Old Rain in mind and memory is my companion in those places I cherish most: bright spring hills, close summer woods, and frosty winter fields. Hold close to your Boos, and make of them your own magic.

Faun Whistling to a Blackbird (1875), Arnold Böcklin

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