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A Luxury of Puddles

We experienced an incredible luxury a few days back: a gentle rain storm at the DeYoung Museum of Fine Art.  We were killing a day so we figured we’d go see a little art, drink a little coffee, and hangout with the kids.  The rain had kept quite a few folks away from the museum and had driven just about everyone else inside.  The five of us, the parents along with 6 year old No. 1, 5 year old No. 2, and 2 year old No. 3 sat in the museum cafe sipping our coffees and apple juices looking out into the adjacent and oh-so-damp sculpture garden. 

As the level of the apple juice bottles fell, one of the kids looked up and said, “Ummm, can we go play?”

“Sure.”

And that was it.  The whole gang wearing nothing heavier than a sweatshirt  trundled out into the sculpture garden in the consistently falling heavy mist that us San Franciscans call rain. The garden is a big grassy expanse probably equal to the size of two lawns from typical American suburbia.  The kids got to wonder from statue to statue, and from tree to tree, picking dandelions as they saw fit.  We got to sit inside, catch up on what was going on in our lives, and beam with pride at the kids outside just, well, being kids. 

As the rain fell and fell, the gang looked progressively more bedraggled, almost like urchins, but for the huge grins they were sporting.  After awhile they disappeared to the Terrell Skydome, a kiva-like affair with benches arranged within a domed structure surrounded by a circular path and situated in a hole.  There’s only one way in and out of the dome, so while we were now staring at an empty lawn, we knew where the gang was, and so worried not.

A bit later, No. 2 wandered back into the cafe to retrieve me.  His wet hair was plastered to his head.  I needed to see something they’d done.  We made our way down to the skydome.  With the extra adhesion offered by the rain, the gang had decorated the base of the dome with their dandelions.  Apparently petals stick better than stems even with the rain, so the whole affair was rather abstract, the base of a dome-capped wall decorated with clinging dandelions exposing their backs to the world.  I took in the proffered artistic experience, thanked the gang and headed back into the cafe.

A bit later still, we looked up to see No. 3 standing in the middle of the lawn with 2 talking to her.  2 leaned back, thought seriously for a moment, nodded his head, and came back into the cafe.  He let us know that 3 had fallen, and tumbled ‘just like Sonic!’  I went out into the rain again to ask 3 what happened.  She haltingly recounted how she’d tumbled while racing around the circular  path around the dome. When she’d finished I asked if it was magnificent like Sonic the Hedgehog.  She giggled then, and said that it was.  She trundled off, all her hurts better, to join the gang again.

Us parents got to catch up a bit more while keeping an eye on the gang who had wandered towards the array of apple statutes.  Apple statues are tricky.  One can touch the apple statues, but one must never lean or climb on the apple statues even if they do happen to be the only statues a foot shorter than said one, (even 3 is taller than the apple statues).  We watched.  The guard watched.  As things began to look like leaning, the guard would nod, and I’d go out to work with the gang on their apple etiquette.  “When thinking of touching the apple statues, always present an oblique view to the guard; that they might see that you’re merely touching, not leaning.  Presenting a posterior view leaves your true intentions in doubt.”  The gang followed my demonstration at first perplexed, and then giggly.  They each took a turn presenting an oblique view and we were back in business.

Soon after that 1 and 2 came back inside, all played out.  3 wasn’t satisfied yet though.  She wanted one more hurrah.  As she followed 1 and 2 towards the cafe, she noticed two things: that the outdoor table tops were now at eye-level for her, and that they all had magnificent mini-puddle sized drops on them.  Held together by some miracle of surface tension, they gleamed against the black matte finish of the tables.  She took a swipe at one and it exploded in mid-air as it launched off the table.  She had to clear them all!  She became a contemplative bubble launcher, sneaking up to the table, brushing her arm over the surface just-so, and watching the singular puddle-bubble burst into an array of parabolically arching mini-bubbles headed for the ground.  With each launch 3 got a little wetter, and her look became a little more content, not smug mind you, merely masterful.

Having cleared tables to her satisfaction, she headed for the cafe.  I hopped up to get the heavy-ish door for her.  I need not have bothered.  She deftly headed for the other door, popped the blue accessibility button, and entered the warm bustle of the cafe under her own steam.  A few seconds later she was seated back at the table with me (mom-person, 1, and 2 had headed to the facilities).  3 grasped her apple juice tilted her head back, and chugged the last of it, her morning of puddles staunchly complete.

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