We had a cloudburst in my neighborhood today. I love that word - cloudburst. You can just picture those big, fat black clouds rolling into view, so heavy with rain that they burst open like a stack of overfilled water balloons. I stopped what I was doing inside the house and walked out onto the deck to watch the cool curtains of rain slapping down onto the trees and grass and macadam. It’s July in the Northeast. We have been enduring a heat wave, days of hot and humid weather that weighed us down with too much of a good thing. The rain was welcome, a cold front moving through noisily with donder and blitzen. This cloudburst was just the precursor to the real show, which would start later, after the day got ripe and steamy. The brief downpour brought with it that special smell of cool rain hitting warm earth. It’s one of those smells that remind us all of something or somewhere, the kind that makes us stop for a moment to remember.
It makes me think of being a little girl, playing with my friends on a sticky summer day, getting caught off guard by the rain, scurrying onto a porch to wait it out. A bunch of hot and sweaty little bodies hastily crowded together, out of breath from running home from the woods or the playground. We would wait restlessly for the rain to taper off to a mist, then run out to the steaming street to splash in the gutters, where rivers of water whooshed down to the storm sewers. We cartwheeled in the wet grass, tromped through every puddle, picked up drowned worms from the sidewalk with screams and giggles. We reveled in the only air conditioning we had in those days, courtesy of Mother Nature, provided by the chilly breeze that swept on through after a storm. We might finish off our afternoon playing Parcheesi on the porch, cool as cucumbers, as our wet clothes dried, never knowing that someday we would become a fond memory called up from the past by a sudden summer storm on another porch far, far away.