The smell of rain claims the night air. Thunder rolls away in startling bursts of gentleness. A streak of lightning pierces through clouds low enough to touch. There it is again, the thunder. It booms and crackles first near and then in far-away waves. Lightning follows. This time, outlines of the clouds appear as silvered stencils.
This pond belongs to ducks. On a clear night, they rest close to the stoned wall’s edge that surrounds the water. They sit and fan their tails, warning passerbys of an invisible, yet invaded boundary. Sounding off, reminding residents that this was first their habitat. But not tonight. This evening they are hiding. There is no quacking; the water is still.
When the sun controls the sky, turtles swim in this brown pond. They peek their heads out of the water, leaving trails of air bubbles on their way to the round, broken, fountain’s water spout. That is where they cluster and rest. But no turtles bask at this hour. They too must hear nature’s alarm. Soon it will rain. Where do they go when the realization hits? They must share land space with the crickets whose voices are louder than their combined presence.
Where are the cranes? During the day they swoop in close and land on top of the pond’s surface. They dip their heads under water and return with an unsuspecting fish between their beaks. They dine on the grassy hill just on the other side. All that is visible now is what the lightning permits, which is the thick, green moss blanketing the outer edges of the pond. Among the moss is a motionless black and white soccer ball, just in dangerous enough reach to attempt saving for some saddened child.
Now, it begins. The rain. I feel one drop and see another on my screen. Raindrops appear in rapid succession on the pond’s surface. But I feel and see one drop at a time in slow motion. The next one touches the tip of my nose. The magnolia leaves protect me. Nonetheless, I rush to my home for shelter. I suppose the Florida animals each have their alternate space as well. I forget that the entire outdoors is their home and concepts of safety shift moment to moment. I forget that we are the visitors. We are the ones who have carved out spaces of cohabitation in the midst of their homes. So I’m left to wonder, where did they go?