The rain is loudly pounding on the old metal roof of the refurbished farmhouse I call home. Sitting beside new double-pane windows, I watch torrents of water wash the leaves from the walkway leading to my front door. In the days before these tight-fitting windows were installed, it was unwise to sit so close. Rain could blow through the gaps each time the wind rattled through.

Today the sound of precipitation pelting the windows and rushing off the roof brings a feeling of winter that cold temperatures alone have thus far failed to do. Dreary skies and the early darkness of shorter days make mid-morning seem like late afternoon. Each December, these are the biggest indicators that Christmas is approaching. In northwest Florida, we rarely have snow.

The puddles in the yard still call out to the child in me, urging me to run, splash, jump and test my skill at landing without sliding down. I have a sudden urge to stand in an especially muddy puddle, dig my toes into the soft, gooey sludge and walk crazily. I resist the urge, but it remains in the back of my mind, awaiting the day when I will give in to my childhood pastimes once more.

In my youth, summer’s sudden rainstorms came fast and hard, creating a flurry of activity. Mama would rush to get the laundry off the clothesline. We children would be sent to manually roll up the windows in the car. A general yell would go out for everyone to check our home’s windows for incoming water. Rain would strike the roof with great intensity. Then just as suddenly as it had begun, the downpour would stop. The stillness would seem thunderously loud. Then we would re-open the windows to welcome the breeze that followed the refreshing rain.

Now we have updated this old house. It has climate control and a laundry room complete with an electric dryer. Because our vehicles have air conditioning (and because vehicle burglary is prevalent), it is unnecessary—unheard of even—to leave our car windows down when parked. Mostly, these updates are good, but like so many other good changes, they encourage forgetfulness of our past and current blessings.

As the sun breaks through the clouds, I notice the present warmth of the house. Winter’s rawness is kept at bay by good, strong walls, tight-fitting windows, and a metal roof. I feel joyous and thankful.

I can see how the house and the winter storm correlate with my own life now, as I enjoy my senior years. God has reset my priorities, improved my attitude, repaired the leaks in my soul and refurbished my heart with a new attitude of thankfulness. Each day I gain strength in knowing that God has given me a wonderful life and a new beginning, in much the same way that I have refurbished this old house.

Ruby J. Kelley is a retired paralegal, loves the slow pace of rural life. She lives with her husband on a small farm in Santa Rosa County, Florida.

This article appeared in the January/February 2024 issue of Gather. To read more like it, subscribe to Gather.