We've been dragging through the worst drought in Florida's recorded history. Grass burned brown, flower beds gone thin and bowed, ponds looking like drained bathtubs, revealing their hidden depths-old bicycles, crushed cans turned green. Even the algae that furred submerged things went powdery and frail.
But the afternoon rain storms have come, at last. They mumble and mutter way off at the horizon for a while, making a pretense of coming, or not coming through. And then they're here, crawling in, hanging overhead for a while, heavy and grim.
For a short time the sun still makes an effort, spotlighting the roof tops, giving every ordinary thing a theatricality that makes you stop and admire them.
And the cabbage palms, like stage actors anyway, begin that arm-waving, frantic dance they do when the wind slides in. Pieces of things tear off whatever they were attached to and fly around in circles. It's almost fun. Then lightning rips everything open, and I remember terrible lightning-strike stories, fishermen glued to the ground by their melted rubber boots, trees landing on picnickers as if they were specifically chosen, my neighbor's car halved by an ornamental palm. The rain pours down from what seems like a gash in the sky and the dance is over.
And I hide, inside.
Where the rain makes the window frames into abstractions, and everything gets small again.