Are you feeling a little moldy around the edges?
I like a little rain once in a while, but the past month has been ridiculously wet. My tomato plants are screaming for sunshine or else. Or else blossom-end rot. I saw a squirrel doing the backstroke in the backyard. One day, almost all the women at work had their high-water pants on.
The complaints are streaming in.
“It rained out three of my games,” a sports reporters pined.
“Ruined my golf plans,” to quote a neighbor.
“Kids had to stay inside for days and they’re driving us bonkers.”
Wednesday night, I decided to do something about it. I went outside and jumped in the big puddle that builds up at the end of our driveway after every big rain.
With both feet.
It felt so g-o-o-o-o-d.
I hadn’t gone puddle-jumping for ... well, many moons.
The concrete street in front of my childhood home in Highland had 6-inch curbs and some good potholes that collected excellent puddles.
Whenever it rained on a warm spring day, the 12th Street Kids gathered on our porch and waited for the rain to quit. Or, at least, slow down to a drizzle. By that time, we were all wet anyway because the porch wasn’t that big and the roof was so high.
We took off our shoes and socks and threw them into a heap on the porch. We rolled up our jeans above the knee, then ran out to the street and waded in the river running next to the curb. Kicking water, stomping, jumping and splashing each other.
We stood next to the biggest puddle at the intersection of 12th and Laurel, waiting for cars to come by. We dared them to speed up and drench us. Many were happy to oblige.
The water just kind of pooled on 12th Street, but on Laurel, the current moved pretty fast downhill. Perfect for racing milk-carton boats, sticks, leaves — and the occasional tennis shoe.
Between races, Kevin picked up the worms that had crawled onto the concrete to commit “harry carey” and taunt the girls with them.
I triple-dared him to eat one and even told him I’d pay him a nickel if he did.
Good thing, because I didn’t have a nickel. But Kevin didn’t know that.
When the rain stopped and we were too pooped to puddle-jump, we dipped mud out of the puddles and smeared it on each other’s eyebrows. In case you’ve never tried it, mud eyebrows make you look kind of wild — like Wolfman. Add a mud mustache and you look like Grouch Marx. Or Zorro.
That’s where Mom drew the line.
I knew she meant business when she peeked out the front door and called me by all three names.
“Patrick ... Louis ... Kuhl, come in here this instant and wash your face. Don’t ever put mud on your eyebrows or YOU’LL GET WORMS!”
There were lots of reasons a kids could get worms, according to Mom. Rain and mud were at the top of the list.
Of course, when you’re a kid, you think she’s talking about night crawlers slithering through your eye sockets, nostrils and ear canals. I had a few scary dreams about it.
But Mom had a way of keeping the rainy-day fun going.
She mixed up a little “indoor mud.” It was really chocolate frosting. It looked just as cool on our eyebrows — and we got to eat the leftovers.
To my knowledge, I never got worms. But every time it rains, I get the strongest craving for chocolate.