a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: There Have Come Soft Rains

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

There Have Come Soft Rains

SUMMARY: Another summer fades away.

The icons in Monday morning's paper shock like icewater: Rain on Wednesday! It comes, it comes. Since May, San Jose has grown steadily more sere, grasses goldening, air yellowing, vines climbing, flowers blooming and fading and blooming again where households conjure artificial rain from pipes running hither and thither beneath the cracking clay soil. Summer, as always, seemed endless: Months of rainless days in which to patch aging concrete, paint worn woodwork, plant this, trim that, build the other. In a flash, with a simple raindrop-flecked square on the back of the Local section, summer dreams scuttle for cover or, awakened, leap with flailing arms, begging for attention.

Oh, no! think I, I had plenty of time left in which to repaint those porch steps, didn't I? Didn't I? --last summer's fresh new paint worn through to bare wood by a year and by thousands of repetitions of dogfeet running to engage squirreldom, dashing to find a tennis ball, rampaging back in time for dinner, or a walk, or a homecoming, or just up and down, in and out, because, just because.

I spend an hour wiping away a year's accumulation of muddy footprints, scraping loose paint from iffy subsurfaces, sanding the bare edges smooth and roughing the wood, vacuuming the dust and debris. I shake, shake, shake the primer can to remind it how to be paint after its long year's rest in the garage, cordon off the stairs from clattering canines, carefully brush a thick layer of primer to seal it well. And, yes, the sun just begins to emerge from the morning fog to help it dry and harden. I need only wait for two hours of drying to apply the dark forest green finish coat.

But, wait, oh, what?! The sun subtly slips away, the clouds condense, and it rains upon my not-yet-set primer coat! It still being Monday, not yet Wednesday by my calendar! I find a large plastic sheet, dash out halfway between showers and wipe the steps as dry as I can, cover the flight to protect it.

When at last the showers stop, hola! the primer has held. The coat is good. I rejoice in having successfully covered all that bare, elderly, sometimes not doing-so-well wood before the rain came to soak it all.

And now my stairs are a thing of beauty, deep green glistening in today's, Wednesday's for real, rain. Summer is over. Dogs still race up and down, undeterred by water and mud and mindless of the home improvement beauty beneath their scampering paws. They transport footprintsfull of my yard up my stairs, across my deck, and onto my kitchen floor. Autumn is a-cumin' in--right into my kitchen. Whence I still have not removed the vestiges of that old fluorescent wallpaper...plenty of time to do that during the summer...

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