Outside our house sits the perfect spot for a puddle. The street dips down and the curb stands tall. There are no tree roots to sop it up, no gutters to drain it down. This spot is made for puddles, the kind you see in children’s books. The kind that evoke images of shiny red boots, sticky with mud, attached to sturdy legs, the mere hemline of a yellow raincoat visible.
After a hot, dry summer more reminiscent of Tucson than rainy Portland, the skies finally open. The dirt is so dry, the grass so unused to nourishment, they have forgotten what to do. The rain almost sits on top of the ground, levitating and steaming. And then it runs, it runs, plinking and plopping, giddy with movement, toward our little corner.
Watching out the window, my children, wide-eyed, hurry through their breakfast. The puddle is growing as we watch, snaking its way around the corner. Who knows how long this puddle will last?! Who has time for cereal?!
We abandon our bowls. There is no time for boots. The older two run out while I grab the baby. Outside, I look up to the sky, finally feeling something other than dry heat hitting my face. The baby laughs, delighted by the unexpected feeling.
My older two are already in. Mud seeps through their toes, water clings to their pajama pants. They kick huge arcs of water. So huge, impossibly huge. Can they reach the top of the house?
Their feet are pink with cold. Their cheeks even pinker with excitement, shiny with rain and laughter and sweat. Drops of mud speckle their clothes and their hair, then cover it, the rain no longer able to wash them clean.
The baby can stand my arms no more, he launches himself toward the ground, crawling like a desperate man toward a desert mirage. He sees himself in the puddle, his image distorted by his siblings’ ripples and drops, then dives in. He sits in his diaper, king of the puddle, splashing along.
Half-naked, freezing, so dirty. The puddle dispersed by the energy of three small children. They are done. They abandon their clothes at the door and head straight for the bathtub. The warm water stinging their skin, the prospect of bubbles easing the pain.
There is beauty here, in these mud-drenched days. There is wildness, exultation, rawness. There is primitive joy, made more meaningful by their fleetingness. When will my children be pulled away from the puddle rather than toward it, saving their shoes from the mud and their socks from the wet? The answer, for now: Not yet.
Guest post written by Alison Wilkinson. Ali lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, three small children, and two large cats. She is a lawyer, writer, knitter, runner and over-consumer of Nutella. She blogs about parenting and other things that make her laugh (and cry) at Run, Knit, Love. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.