Growing up in Massachusetts, one thing that was predictable was the weather. When the sky grew overcast, you knew rain was coming and when it came, it was consistent. The rain would fall, it would cover the whole area and then it would eventually stop.
When I moved to Florida, there were a great many things I had to get used to, such as mosquitoes, palm trees, coconuts, Spanish moss, a great deal of sun and long stretches of soft sandy beaches. There is one other thing to get used to, the strangest weather.
There were times when the sky would be clear. The sun shone. Yet, within a half hour there was a downpour that drenched the area. Then, after a storm, which was so intense, you couldn’t see five feet in front of you, what we called a “Frog Strangler,” the rain would stop after an hour and out would come the sun, again. In no time, steam would literally rise from the pavement and sidewalks, as the runoff evaporated.
Yes, some very odd weather, but the oddest Florida weather I ever saw was one Friday night, while we were having our weekly game night with friends and family. Our house was a rather odd one: narrow, but extremely long; the main room ran from the front door to the back door. This particular night, it was raining and it was truly coming down, out in the back yard.
We sat around the dining room table, playing cards. We didn’t pay attention to what was going on outside. After all, it was raining and we were safely inside, why would we be concerned about the affairs of the exterior world?
We knew that we had some late arrivals for the evening’s festivities. I jumped to my feet and raced to the door. After all, we didn’t want them to have to stand in the rain for long. We didn’t know if they had umbrellas, and our porch roof was narrow. As I opened the door, the vision before me was startling.
Two friends stood there, dry and calm. The clear moonlit sky was behind them. My jaw literally dropped open and I stepped out onto the porch as I greeted them. Everyone else joined me for a moment.
We scanned the sky; it was clear and cloudless. We went back inside and moved to the far end of the house. Gathering at the windows, we looked out. Rain was coming down in buckets! We were all amazed. We’d seen plenty of Florida storms were the line of demarcation, the break line between where the rain was falling and where it wasn’t, was a mere few feet.
Never before had any of us seen one of our own homes lie right on that separation. It reminded me of a scene from an old comedy movie of the 1970s, “Murder by Death,” where a group of detectives, all parodies of famous sleuths, are invited to a home to solve a crime. As they enter the front door, they see a thunderstorm through all the other windows. It played for laughs. Now we were seeing it brought to life for real.
We all laughed; a few minutes later the storm moved on. The whole house, eventually, was drenched in rain. Our brief time sitting astride that transitional barrier had ended. If we only had a video camera to record the moment.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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