What It Was Like

The day started sunny and cool. The clouds arose and passed over in the AM. Everything is fulsomely green in Philadelphia nowadays. I was by the Schuylkill, where the punts slide up and down the river, the oars like insect legs. Few people out: random bike riders, gangs of moms with strollers, the incessant stream of runners worn thin by the time of day.

On the way downtown, as I was waiting at the circle before the Museum, the grey damp of impending rain loomed in the southwest, blew in suddenly with only a few premonitory splatters. Then there was rain driving between the towers, cascading on the glass surfaces of the buildings, flushing out drains and waterspouts, lashing the trees, and soaking all. I drove south on 21st and east on Pine between the row houses, to the Delaware. Branches on the street, some big ones, and leaves and freshly crushed wood. You could smell the fresh car-trampled greenery, the downpour notwithstanding.

In cities there are always people out in it, anytime you have rain. I love to watch them from a dry place. Small pointless umbrellas, wedged persons, crouched, wincing, as people do when their face is involuntarily wet, men in suits scrambling, bike riders in great earnest, and the huddled into hoodies puzzled people who do not seem in any way to comprehend meteorological phenomena, all going about.

Great clouds lumbered over like ocean liners afterward. I was at IKEA watching it dwindle and break up, having the hot dogs and gazing on the ancient ocean liner in the dock across the way. Outside the day was scrubbed clean, like a seaside town after a squall. We had more rain later, more wind, and more fallen branches. I was then inside a glass case near the art museum; on my way down, through the sculpture garden, I activated the wall-fountain for a few seconds. I left Philadelphia clean and prosperous, the air clear, the leaves pleased, the glass surfaces of the towers reflecting cloud and sunlight, the edges chiseling the rowdy wind.


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