For two weeks it was cold and grey outside, the air filled with a dense fog. The weather guy called it a temperature inversion, brought on by warm sunny skies on the coast. People were tweeting scenes from the top of nearby mountain ranges. “Above the clouds!” the photo caption would read, with barely restrained frenzy. Or “Finally found the sun!” Every picture looked like it was taken out the window of a plane: a seemingly impenetrable layer of grey-white cotton batting spread flat beneath the incongruous shock of empty blue sky.
January in the Northwest is never cheery but this fog, my god. After a while it made me feel claustrophobic, like the air itself was pressing down on me. Being home all day didn’t help, the sunroom off the back of the house — uninsulated and too cold to sit in this time of year — felt like an unwanted barrier between the increasingly shrinking living room and the backyard. The only way to look outside is through another room. Like being in a fishbowl, forever looking for a place to build up some speed but finding only curved glass.
On Saturday the sky was grumpy and unsure of itself. It rained then the sun came out then it rained again. Light filtered through the house and held every smear and fingerprint and dusty surface in sharp relief. I should clean, I thought. “Put your coats on, guys,” I said.
We walked to the nearby park in full sunshine, walked down the busy street by the Safeway under gathering clouds, and when we were maybe half a mile from home the rain came in earnest. We ran down the street, stopped under the cover of a church doorway, ran on. Dylan’s face flushed into three perfectly round spots: his cheeks, the tip of his nose. We panted and gasped and laughed. My jeans soaked through and clung unpleasantly, my hair worked free of its ponytail and slapped wetly against my neck. The boys’ eyelashes stood out in wet spikes. “This is RIDICULOUS!” Riley shouted, delighted. We ran through puddles that danced at the surface.
Later, Riley drew me a picture of our outing. “Here,” he said, a little shyly, shifting back and forth on his feet. “I know we didn’t see a rainbow but it seemed like one was there.”