“I’m going out for a walk. You want to come along?”
I look up from the stack of reading material in my lap. I’ve been working my way through it for a couple of hours—time to get some fresh air.
“Okay, I’ll go.”
I drop the journals on the floor by the desk and descend the stairway to get my hat. My wife is already outside on the back porch, easing into her new walking shoes.
“Take the dog,” she says. “She hasn’t been out since this morning.”
I snap the leash on our rough coat Jack Russell and grab a plastic bag. We head down the driveway to the street, sidestepping the runoff from our neighbor’s newly washed car. Soon the dog is straining at the leash as we head out down the street.
It’s Saturday evening. The deck on the side of the local pub is packed with people milling about. We turn at the bottom of the hill and head for the park, passing the old Georgian brick home next to the village auto repair shop.
“I wish I could peek inside,” my wife says. She loves old houses with their high ceilings and wide windows.
“There’s where Ruth used to live,” she says, pointing to the house next door. “One day she was there and the next she was gone.”
Halfway to the park a bank of black clouds rolls in overhead. Shortly, the wind kicks up. Off to the west you could still see blue sky.
“It looks like we’re in for some weather,” I say. “Better turn around.”
No sooner do we start to retrace our steps than the rain begins to fall. Rapidly, it turns into a downpour.
“Let’s cut up through this way—it’s shorter.”
“If we run we can make the gazebo on the green—it’s closer.”
I take off on a slow trot with the dog; my wife brings up the rear. We’re wet by the time we reach the gazebo, but not soaked to the skin.
We sit on the two wide wooden benches and watch the rain descend in transparent curtains. The air has cooled considerably. In our wet clothing it’s almost chilly.
“The windows are open in the house. I’m going to make a go for home with the dog.”
“I’ll wait here until it lets up,” I say. I don’t relish the thought of getting soaked to the skin.
My wife takes off with the dog. I watch them disappear through the trees at the edge of the green, then rise to my feet and walk to the railing. I remember delivering a speech from the gazebo several years ago on such a day as this. Everyone was huddled beneath the roof: standing room only.
Soon two fellows appear on mountain bikes, zipping across the lawn. They enter the gazebo and pull off their helmets.
“You fellows got caught in the rain.”
“We were up on the ridge when it hit. Not much you can do other than push through it.”
“How far did you go?”
“Out along the ridge to the power lines at Spoonville and back—nearly two hours.”
“That’s a good ride.”
“We’ve done all the local ridges this summer,” they tell me.
“I never did much mountain biking. For a while I took up road biking until that got too dangerous.”
“Yeah, the cars will clip you if you don’t watch out.”
“I’ve known two bikers who fell and broke their arms; a third who fractured his tibial plateau and ribs.”
“Did they get hit?”
“One fellow got clipped. The others skidded and fell on gravel.”
“Road biking’s not for me,” the bearded fellow says. “I don’t trust cars. At least when you’re up on the trail, the only things you’ve got to watch out for—like branches and rocks—are stationary. If you keep an eye out, you do fine.”
The rain starts to let up. They don their helmets, buckle on their shin protectors and head out across the lawn. I watch them go, glad that I am on foot.
I step out into the gentle rain and amble up the glistening street. My wife is sitting on the front porch with the dog at her side and a cup of coffee resting in her lap.
“You wet?” she asks.
“Barely,” I grin. “I don’t remember the last time I got caught in a summer rain.”