It was a dark and stormy afternoon…

06/23/2008 By Shawn Burns

The heavens exsanguinated, perforated by a trillion tiny tines.

Cool droplets did what cool droplets do when they meet a hot sidewalk: they exploded, water molecules racing to see which would go the fastest and farthest. As reinforcements arrived the event ceased to be a meteorological Gallipoli and became instead an aquatic Waterloo: small pockets, French squares, of pavement still untouched were surrounded by an ever-advancing tide of soggy English doom. Eventually, all of these pockets surrendered, and the concrete became a uniformly dull shade of grey where once it had been a brilliant ivory.

Accompanying the visual victory of the damp over the dry was a temperature transformation: once-arid air was now as sodden a sponge (a wet sponge of course; that ought to have gone without saying).

The day became bearable. Walking outside after the rain was experiencing the world as it could only have been imagined just a few hours before, when the heat was stifling activity and driving everyone indoors.

A short walk became, with little effort, a long walk. That long walk turned into a lunch outside a downtown cafe. That lunch transformed into trip to the office to convince her to come play outside: the weather was fine and shouldn’t be wasted sitting inside. This mission accomplished, we went for a hike in the freshened forest. Just after a rain the trees, plants, and flowers in a forest all present themselves first to the nose. Next they inform the ears of their location with a gentle dripping that can be heard when the heart is muffled. We could have navigated safely from our car to the now-rushing creek with our eyes closed, so powerful were the smells and sounds surrounding us, locating every living thing within an olfactory and auditory field.

Once arrived at the creek we laid out our water-proof blanket and let the diminutive one discover moss and harmless insects. We coaxed her away from the running water, and diverted her attention to those few ladybugs that hadn’t yet flown from her exuberance.

A long hike back to the car, a short drive back home, and a late afternoon nap for all of us before a dinner prepared on the grill in the thankfully tolerable evening air.


All of this, and other fantasies that never happened to me, can be found at In Shawn’s Dreams.Com*. It has been ass-boiling hot here. So hot, in fact, that we had to get a hotel room last night just to sleep comfortably. The thermostat in the apartment has been pinned at 99 (flashing) during the day, and it stays at 95 until 3 in the morning. We sit next to floor fans hoping that we wont’ die of dehydration before we get a chance to smack whoever is responsible for the weather.

Thankfully, it has cooled off now, but not before we actually fled into a McDonald’s just for the air-conditioning. Erin has never been to McDonald’s before, and we were deliberately avoiding it. But, thanks to whomever decided 100 was an acceptable number for a temperature in Menlo Park in June I gave my daughter chicken McNuggets. I will blame them for her now impossibly high cholesterol and her obsession with Kung Fu Panda toys.

*In Shawn’s Dreams.Com is not an actual website. Well, perhaps it is, but if it is it has nothing to do with me and I don’t know what those women are doing.