Sunday, May 06, 2007

Flood Days

Some places have snow days, we have flood days. The first round came at 4 a.m. The windows rattled with tremendous rolls of thunder. The girls climbed in our bed until it passed. June quivered with fear.

The morning was calm, but more rains swept in as the day passed. At midday, the power at work cut out, then flickered on again as the generators kicked in. As I was recomposing my lost email, we were told to go home. The streets were flooding. I decided the email wasn't meant to be sent.

The next two hours were a complicated series of logistical maneuvers: cross town phone calls, traffic jams, circuitous navigations around and sometimes through flooded thoroughfares, kids (and the classroom guinea pig we were pig-sitting for the weekend) picked up early from school, more circuitous navigations. Eventually we made it.

The local news was gushing with neighborhood by neighborhood reports, rain tallies, earnest young reporters in windbreakers, and a fresh batch of the perennial rain-day scenes: cars that misjudged the deep spots, up to their roofs in water, windshield wipers still swishing; poor suckers pushing stalled vehicles up to high ground; others staring dejectedly at their dead engines. Some kids had played hookie to go to Jazz Fest but flooded their rental car instead. One brazen pick-up driver speedily backed his truck into three feet of water, keeping the engine dry in its wake, and emerged safely on the other side. The news crew couldn't hide their admiration.

The weather cleared. Dinner was an impromptu affair with friends and leftover red beans from Monday. As the kids devolved into a Lord-of-the-Flies tribal society, we sipped and chatted on the balcony. The houses across the street turned luminous gold in that certain magic after-the-storm light my aunt calls La Lumiere du Sainte Esprit (Light of the Holy Spirit).* Sarah said, "Look at the clouds." They were Mammatus: rare, beautiful, pendulous formations that occur in turbulent weather. (I knew this from my recent forays into cloud-geekery.)



The children came and wowed, then returned to their savage rituals.



Eventually, calm night settled. Friends went home. Children went to bed.

The next day was clear, hot, and new.

* At least I have a recollection of her calling it that, and it doesn't seem like something I would make up, though I could only find one Google hit that matched the phrase, and it's talking about the communion of several children at a church in Cairo, Egypt and plays organ music and doesn't seem to have anything to do with brilliant rays of horizontal sunlight shining beneath a turbulent sky. Annou, can you confirm?

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