oil on board, c. 1879.
A St. Helen's summer -- all sucking heat and stunted corn and grass that crunched like moss, and the sky never blue, day after day -- the sky always a bowl of surly yellow like an old bruise and the sun a smear in the yellow haze.
And we watched the sky, westerly, from where the dry winds came, day after day, hoping, as the clay in the fields cracked wide and deep and the river shrank like it hurt from the stones along its bed.
Until one afternoon, the sky rumbled dark and gray and the rain fell, finally, like a great bucket overturned.
I sent the children out to the nearest broad puddle and told them to dance in the mud and the rain.
Children need to laugh and splash and stomp in mud puddles -- to learn the physics of the world.