My local library is a great place to sit when it rains. Huge windows look out onto beautifully manicured gardens. Beyond that lies the main road. The windows wrap around the building creating a sense of panorama that lets in light but no wind.
Maple trees line the back wall. Their pale green leaves cup like hands, holding the rain for a moment before it spills in an arc, casting lines on the ground like signposts.
A man totters, carrying a carton of eggs. I sit on the edge of my seat as he threatens to lose his footing. He leans forward and sideways, a seasoned slapstick performer. If he had a hat, I’m sure he would tip it in my direction, maybe squirt me with a plastic flower.
A little boy approaches the main entrance with his mother, wearing a Wiggles raincoat. He is carrying two plastic buckets, one yellow, one fire-engine red. They are full of water. He wants to bring them into the library. The librarian emerges from behind her desk, points to the list of prohibited items on the wall. To my surprise it says : No Buckets. I wonder for a moment if I have slipped through the looking glass into another world where things are not as they seem. Perhaps it is more common than I think for little boys to attempt to bring buckets of water into a public library. Perhaps it is so common it has become a nuisance.
The little boy stands his ground as his mother tries to get him to leave his buckets outside. ‘Someone will steal them,’ he says. ‘It is my rain.’ His mother shows him a chair by the window, that if he leaves the buckets there he will be able to keep an eye on them. He rushes inside, plonks himself in the chair and watches more rain gather in his buckets. After a while I can appreciate his fascination – the water turns red or the colour of dull sunlight depending on which bucket it falls in. It is mesmerising.
The computer booths are full. Out of ten computers, five of them are being used by women dressed in brightly-coloured clothes. They are all looking at online dating sites. I wonder if they know each other, if they have decided together that today is the day they will find true love. Some of them laugh as they survey the profiles of possible suitors, others look grim.
The readers in the library have made themselves at home, tucked into their chairs like children watching their favourite film. A small man with glasses reads a book on mountain climbing, he smiles and moves his lips. Perhaps he dreams of conquering Everest.
A thin girl flicks nervously through a book about decorating wedding cakes, shaking her head at every page. She bites her lip. Perhaps she is having second thoughts. The little boy has forgotten his buckets and reads a book on trains, puffing like a steam engine as he turns the page.
Raindrops coat the windows, tendrils of crystal. The grass has sprung to attention, greener than freshly picked limes. I imagine wellington boots squeaking upon it or ducks sashaying with pleasure. The earth blooms, sighs with relief after months of drought. If you could see it you would only feel happy when it rains. If you could see the clouds hanging like half-ripe fruit you would feel your heart begin to sing: It’s raining again. At long last.