…doesn’t make me feel fine lately. It’s April and we’re in the 80s and 90s for temperatures. Damn it, this isn’t right. I know regular Spring is returning in a few days, and I can’t wait. I didn’t wear short sleeves today, but was sorely tempted to do so. The living room got so damned hot late in the day yesterday due to the sun, but we’re resisting putting the A/C on. Like I said — It’s April, damn it!
The heat, as miserable as it is, stirred a memory on Saturday that I just remembered. I was walking over to the local Italian deli up a quiet street when I came across a veritable river of water flowing down a driveway into the street, where it was collecting and moving rapidly several hundred feet further on before ending in a storm drain. It took me back probably thirty five years as I stood there for a few moments.
Back when I was a kid growing up in Connecticut, I kept busy in the summer the way all kids do — by taking something mundane and making it special. I remember one summer, probably in 1973 or 1974, when the temperature was rising and dad still wouldn’t buy air conditioning. We had a split-level colonial with an enormous double-attic. I’d sit in the entrance to the lower level with the enormous attic fan drawing gale force winds from the house and through the attic to the vent and outside. I’d have the light on, sitting in one of those ground-level beach chairs, reading by the 40 watt bulb. This was the summer I devoured Lord of the Rings. But I digress, as I was talking about water.
My neighbor, Billy, was over, and we noticed our neighbors, the Hunts, had a sprinkler running and a fair amount of water was flowing into the street and moving a couple hundred feet further before emptying into the sewer. Being boys, we saw adventure in this. We sat in the shade of the big tree in the Hunt’s front yard, with our feet in the water, making little boats of leaf and grass, intricately weaving them together — well, as intricately as 10 year olds can weave — and placing them into the water to travel onto foreign lands, to beyond those spots on maps marked, “Here Be Dragons.”
We must have done this for hours. We would each place one in the water to race the other’s and then get up to follow them to their looming destruction in the waterfall of the sewer. They would race along before grounding on some sand or rocks that lay in the path of the rushing water, requiring our assitance to free them so they could carry on to their final destination.
This all came back in a flood of memory on Saturday as I stood there. Stepping over the water, I noticed a small leaf and watched it begin moving in the stream. I kept pace with it, watching as it bobbed and weaved among the obstacles presented, until at last it reached the storm drain at the end of the street, across from the deli. As it swirled into the drain, I smiled at the thought of my younger self, lost for hours on end in this simplicity.
If only life were still that easy.