The freakishly hot weather ended today. On Monday, the high reached 79. By sunset last evening, the clouds were starting to return, though the temperatures were still in the 70s and the lake front was crowded with walkers, bikers, skaters, strollers. What it wasn’t crowded with were other people with white hair. There was one older (and I use that term relatively) man on a bike who whizzed past me but it just looked like his hair had turned silver prematurely for the express purpose of enhancing his appeal. Finally, as I neared my turnoff, a gray-haired couple passed going the other direction. It made me feel a little less like a walking piece of planned obsolescence.
The clouds were still here this morning, a relief after the last days with their unblemished blue skies, the kind of sky that used to depress me when I lived in Southern California. Until someone put a house on what the realtor had promised us was “unbuildable county land” not fifteen feet from our Topanga Canyon A-frame, I could see the sky every morning when I woke up. I’d look up at that unbroken blue and think, “Shit. Another perfect day.” I longed for clouds. Hence, Seattle.
And so I was glad to see them back today. Didn’t mind that the forecast called for rain and thunderstorms. After many hours on the phone over the last two days, I was taking my car to the body shop to be repaired (that’s another story for another day, or, perhaps, not) and then picking up both grandkids from their schools. The sun was gone by the time I dropped my poor bumperless car off and pulled the rental beside it to transfer my stuff.
The sky grew dark really quickly and the rain started to come down hard. It stopped as I was driving to her school but returned with a vengeance as my granddaughter and I were on our way to get her brother. This time, it got so dark it looked like night was falling and the rain was so thick and heavy that it was hard to see. “Boy,” I said to her, “and they make a big deal out of rain in Seattle.” Having spent the first seven years of her life there, she knew what I meant.
By late afternoon, the skies were still heavy but no longer threatening and I was the only one walking beside the lake at sunset. There was the occasional runner, but that was it. I wondered about the wisdom of walking alone in a darkening park but felt reassured by the proximity of a well-heeled neighborhood of lovely homes and traffic that was close enough for the area not to feel deserted.
Nonetheless, I returned home via Hennepin Avenue, with its juxtaposition of bars and library and red floodlit nightclub that only opens on weekends though, intriguingly (which I guess is the point), its fully illuminated ornate chandeliers glowed out from behind dusty windows. This stretch of Hennepin kind of reminds me of the Ave in Seattle—a commercial street that’s seen better days but is still hanging on in the hopes that there are more to come. Come to think of it, that’s kind of how I feel much of the time.
Photos by Ruth Neuwald Falcon