On her first evening, we took the dogs down to the big iron bridge that crosses the white river
in the town of West Hartford. The evening was sweltering, and we went swimming in the deep green water, swam up to the little ledge hole and rode the white current down to the bottom of the eddy. We wore our PFDs so that we could exude the least amount of effort possible, just lean back in the water and float. A group of white water kayakers showed up at one point, and an older man and his little boy offered to let the two of us go surfing with his tandem boat. They waited on the rocks, the little boy throwing the ball into the water for my dog and calling her back with an amazingly endearing lisp, as we leaned too far into the current and toppled over, swimming in a mass of arms and legs and paddles into the rocks lining the shallow hole.
It fell dark, and soon we were back on the screen porch, wrapped in sweatshirts and eating a plate of tomatoes and vinegar for dinner with pieces of bread our friend gives us free from his bakery. It grew late quickly as we talked and compared notes about the most recent chapters of our lives. We had planned on watching an episode of The Office before bed, but the world had some much different in store for the night's entertainment. I went downstairs to serve two bowls of peach ice cream, and when I came back up, lightning was flashing on the horizon. At first we attributed it to heat lightning, the atmosphere swelling with the humidity until it couldn't take it anymore and burst in flashes of white light, but soon enough enormous cracks of thunder split the sky and the air cooled and became heavy.
Cassie is a graphic designer, and photographer, and married to a professional photographer, and so she understood when my first impulse was to grab my camera and set up the tripod in the front yard, hoping to finally catch an elusive fork of lightning on film. She came with me outside and held an over sized sunhat above the camera to guard against the rain, which fell in big drops like marbles. The lightning came in two styles, in flashes and strikes, and when we caught a strike the two of went mad with excitement.
Somehow, the storm lasted more than two hours, and even when it became wild and wrapped around us, we stood in the eye of the storm and held the shutter down over and over again.
And it was just our first day.