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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dancing in the Rain

I remember when I was a kid my two older sisters and I used to run outside when the summer rains fell. Barefoot, we would dance like frenzied natives immersed in a tribal ritual, never self conscious about spectators, but playfully communicating with the rain. Sometimes the drops would fall so hard that they would bounce back up. Thousands of bullet fast splats demanding attention like a million machine guns spraying the earth. The rain hurt our faces, so we could only stand like a mummy in this rain, chins tucked, arms tightly pinned to our bodies, but the laughter would be there; hard laughter because of the pain of the drops, and the tension of being enveloped by something much bigger than we were.
When the rains were heavy the sewers on our road would overflow causing the gutters to run wild like swirling rivers. Leaves plucked off the trees by the storm would spin in little eddies on the water like tiny boats in distress. I always wanted to put an ant on one of those leaves and watch it sail around and around.
Inch by inch the flood would claim its victory over our little neighborhood road, transforming Ormond St. into a lazy waterway. The old oaks that once shaded our road now looked down onto a murky river below creating a scene which could have easily been plucked from a Huck Finn novel.
Mr. Sullivan, a neighbor who enjoyed boating and the bottle, would launch his ancient row boat into the surf and laugh like a stubbly chinned pirate as he rowed up and down the flooded road. Eventually the shores of the neighborhood would become flanked with families drawn out by his laughter to watch the familiar spectacle. The children cheered; each secretly yearning to be the first mate of this urban adventure. Only the 3 Sullivan children had the privilege of boarding the rickety craft, and they would sit with smug smiles and straight backs on the wooden slat seats, eating up the attention as though they were the only float in a grand parade. We envied them miserably, but all in all we were happy for the excitement, and if Mr. Sullivan had neglected to row the river Ormond, we would have missed it terribly.


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