on the umbrellas here, and on the ships at sea*

How it is raining, raining.  How I wore purple rubber shoes and carried my black teacher-shoes in my bag.  How I was then able to traipse directly through the deep puddles, feeling the chilly water wash round my toes.  How the shoes, out of the water, squeaked and squeaked.

I had purple rain boots when I was three years old, and a purple umbrella.  I believe they were adorned with white hearts.  On rare rainy days in our neighborhood on MCAS El Toro, in Orange County, California, we’d go for walks in the rain: me watching my booted feet in the gutter, looking for earthworms which had crawled out of their sodden earth homes.

I also had a cat named Ginger when I was three. People generally call yellow cats “Ginger,” so that the name is not particularly imaginative, but my cat was black and was named after the villanous feline of C. S. Lewis’ The Last Battle. So, you see, my literary propensities began early.

Now I have other cats bearing other names, one of whom engaged in a battle with a neighborhood villan in the wee hours of this morning, inspiring our wee dog to erupt from beneath my parents’ bed and charge down the hall past my door, barking her excitement to the slumberous world.  Subsequently the cat was admitted to the house, so that, when I was returning to my pillow’s embrace, he found himself in a chatty mood and came down the hall to describe the battle, no doubt.  I did not listen. If you want to talk to me in the wee hours of the morning, it must be of something other than battles.

Cats replace cats; mornings end in afternoons; eventually, you slip off the purple puddle shoes and don the professional shoes, resolving, however hard it may be, to keep awake for the afternoon of presentations on topics perhaps less thrilling than the feline fracas. I told my students Chesterton’s contention: that uninteresting subjects are non-existent, only uninterested people.  Some days it’s more difficult to apply than other days. Step the first: another cup of tea.



*title from “Rain” by Robert Louis Stevenson

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