A storm is coming. A summer thunderstorm, to be precise. Soon it will hit with a violent passion, drenching everything in its path. Then, after only a few minutes, it will fade as if it had never happened at all. For now, however, the world is waiting.
I am already outside when I take off my headphones and stop to listen to the world around me. What caught my attention was the wind. It runs straight through me, then circles back, and hits me again; it yowls all the way. It is a cat, both cautious of approaching too close, yet also insatiably curious. I laugh, and run to the park, to that little trail around the drainage valley.
The path is only about 500 feet long, but it packs in more variety than most mile-long forest trails. I look over the expanse of marsh that covers the valley below me. Familiar sights catch my eye. The willow tree, the sunken bridge, cattails, their feathery heads roasting over an imaginary fire.
I take a few steps forward and step on a sharp pebble. Pebbles litter the yellow sand of this first stretch of path. As I turn a corner, the path widens and changes to grass. I follow the path as it drops down a small hill. My bare feet slap as I run, their sound instilling in me a feeling of primal power. To my left, marsh grasses grow wild and thorny, doubled over themselves in strange shapes. To my right, a row of pines is all that separates me from an unknown neighbor’s backyard. It is enough. I feel like the only person in the world, or at least the only living one.
I look up to the sky, shadowed in the false twilight of heavy clouds. The grey clouds rush around at a frenetic pace. They are hurrying to finish the necessary preparations before they drop their burdens. Suddenly, the sky lights up. Lightning! It is followed several seconds later by the deep cackle of far-off thunder. I imagine the nymphs of Greek mythology, running desperately from arrogant gods. Good luck, lightning.
I am nearing the end of the path now, at the fallen tree. For as long as I have been coming down this path (several years), the tree has sat here. Its ghostly grey bark, upturned roots, and leafless branches are a reminder of a summer storm long ago. Here the path curves up, and I am once again atop the small hill.
I feel a drop on the back of my hand. The storm is closing in. I stop and wait, staring expectantly at the clouds. For several minutes, the sky is still. Then the clouds drop their load with a fury. I duck beneath a tree, gather my courage, and start to run home. As I run, the storm picks up, the wind blowing water even where leaves shelter the sidewalk. Nothing is safe.
My house is only a block away from the park. Yet when I pull myself through the door, I am dripping. I pull off my soaked clothes and run upstairs; I am not yet done with water. I take a bath and laugh as I listen to the storm outside, dreaming of more summer storms to come.