PFIP #1 – Puddles

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I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck. … I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
— Neil Gaiman ‘American Gods’

The weather has been crazy, and I don’t mean that in the sense that we’ve just had bad weather. The weather really has been all over the place today. In the space of an hour (and I’m not over-exaggerating), it rained heavily, and then died off only to hail two minutes later, to go horribly windy and cold and clear up, to rain again. It’s like the weather is on hormone replacement therapy and its mood is a tad unstable right now.

I was on my way to collect the children I nanny from school this afternoon; when I left the house the skies were heaving out whatever they had. That kind of rain that plummets forcefully, as though each drop is a bullet aimed at gravity, and pelts through hair leaving trickles of water on the scalp. Puddles, accumulated over many days, began to overflow, filling gaps in the concrete with rippling pools casting distorted reflections of the world around. I could hear the thunder of tapping on my umbrella as I hurried to the bus stop, donned in wallies and thick socks. Because sometimes that’s what the world is. It’s heavy rain and hastened footsteps, and it’s stirring puddles and the constant tapping from above. Some days the world is all about getting to cover as quickly as you can and hoping your umbrella doesn’t catch a gust of wind and turn out.

However.

On my walk down through the park to get to the school, the rain petered away and finally stopped, and while the sky was still billowing with black clouds, it almost appeared tired. Exhausted. As though the pressure of forcing out that rain had drained it of more than just water, and it simply needed to rest. And quite suddenly, the park, muddy and water-logged, filled with dedicated dog owners and one car-less child minder, brightened, and the puddles grew still and the drips trailing from the branches of winter trees lessened.

That’s when I took this picture. After the downpour, waiting for classes to finish, staring at the reflection of the play-frame in the pool underneath, which had been pummeled only minutes before. The sun managed to peek through the haze of clouds, and children too young to be attending education ripped off their hoods and came out from under their parents umbrellas to splash about in the water, and hop across the wooden structure without falling into the crocodile pit. And sometimes, that’s what the world is about. It’s about watching the last drops spill onto the ground, and unwrapping yourself, and making ripples of your own. It’s about seeing the sun, however dimly, and laughing with strangers, and crossing bridges even though you’re afraid you might fall into the crocodile pit. It’s about jumping with startled surprise when you do fall into the crocodile pit and leaping out and smiling because you still have your leg regardless.

Sometimes life is about walking home with two kids, and pointing out a rainbow cresting in the dark clouds, and seeing their faces, and hearing the youngest thank the sky for the big rainbow, and laughing at the eldest when she exclaims that she wants to run off and find the pot of gold.

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