I like this music," I told my daughter and began to sway my head back and forth in some semblance of a beat to the chippy tune playing on television. The day's weather prognostication rolled by as an area map showed spots of green inching across the little county outlines. Hallelujah, rain was on the way.
"Hallelujah," I said aloud.
It is summer. It is hot. Hallelujah for the rain.
In addition to the heat, oh, the heat, there are lots of things that say summer for me -- like big, gray glooming clouds that let out grand rumbles of thunder on a hot afternoon, the fresh smell of rain even before the first big, tubby drop falls to the ground, and steam rising up from the blistering pavement. Lightning storms so beautiful and terrifying all at the same time, crackling across the sky like cracks in a sidewalk.
The sidewalk. I used to think the sidewalk could take me anywhere. Squares of sole-burning concrete on a hot summer day, separated by cracks you didn't dare step on. Bare feet jumping from one square to the other, hopping to cool respite every so often in the soft, green grass of a familiar yard. Tiny treasures scattered along the walk. Roly polys. Pennies. Tucked into pockets only to be found later in the wash.
I loved walking to town, fetching a gallon of milk for mama from the service station cooler and a candy bar, too. We never took money. Put it on a ticket, we would say, and knew mama or daddy would pay at the end of the week or the end of the month, I wasn't quite sure. They'd write it down on the little ticket pad with the purple copy paper underneath. Some days I'd get to walk over to the post office to get the mail, lined up in the box with the combination lock. Turn the bronze knob to the left and to the right, stopping at the little letters until you got the combination just right. I never got much mail.
"You've got to write somebody for somebody to write you back," mama used to say. And so I did. I wrote my brother a letter. He didn't write me back. Probably because he lived in the house with me and figured he didn't have much to write about, considering he saw me every day of his life. So I wrote myself a letter. I used my best print and put my name and full address on the clean, white envelope. I even printed my return address in the left hand corner, just in case it had to be sent back to me. I can only imagine what Mr. Robert, the postmaster, was thinking. Whatever he thought, I'm pretty sure he gave me a piece of Juicy Fruit chewing gum from his shirt pocket before I left the post office. Maybe that was the day -- the day I got the letter from myself -- that he gave me two pieces of Juicy Fruit. I think he felt sorry for me.
A gallon of milk in a paper bag and a fistful of mail, walking home on a hot summer day, bare feet hopping over cracks in a sizzling sidewalk, relishing the sweetness of a brand new piece of Juicy Fruit gum. It doesn't get much better. Unless, right as you get to the edge of the yard, in sight of the porch, you hear a rumble of thunder off in the distance. Rain on the way to cut the heat. Hallelujah.
Hallelujah for the rain.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.