All Summer In A Day

In 1979 or so, I saw a movie in Mrs. Purcell’s third grade English class called “All Summer In A Day”. The story took place on Venus where it rained all day, every day, except for one fifteen minute window every year when the sun came out.

That’s what it feels like in New York right now: always gray, always wet, always windy, except for Sunday afternoons — just as the weekend’s wrapping up — and the golden hour light is as heartbreaking as it is fleeting.

In ‘All Summer In A Day,’ the kids on Venus anticipate the sunshine as the one instance all year when they can go outside and play. But they resent a little Earthgirl — the new kid — and lock her in the closet as the moment approaches. She spends their one moment of sunny recess watching the sun track through the crack under the door.

Sad story, right?

I always identified that little girl: the outsider stuck there in the dark. Maybe that was Bradbury’s point, and Mrs. Purcell’s: empathy. Running through Central Park this morning under branches heavy with rain, I was just glad I got out of the dark.

Central Park is actually quite beautiful in the rain. For one thing, it’s empty. And the sounds of the city fade away, leaving a soundtrack of raindrops and waterfalls. Running on the hills around the ramble, or the gravel-strewn horse path, I could almost be in Saratoga Springs, or Telluride even. It’s a welcome escape.

The Park turns 150-years-old this year. It’s 843 acres. It was designed by Frederick Ulmstead and Culvert Vox as the city lay in depression (1857). Their objective was to set aside space on this increasingly populated island while creating jobs for the Irish and blacks and other immmigrants who were so recently unemployed. The design was intended to create nature to serve man; to make a space for all classes to share nature — “a symbol of american metropolitan democracy.” So each entrance, or gate, is named for a different trade: engineers gate, farmer’s gate, etc. At the time, the classes were not getting along. Problem was, it was so far uptown, only the upper class could afford to get there. Anyway, it’s one of the most beautiful urban spots on earth, maybe the most. I’m glad it’s here, always just a few blocks away, rain or shine.

P.S. Christofer finished second in his age group (26/137 overall) at the rain-soaked and wind-whipped Cape May Duathlon with a total run/ride/run time of 1:31:43. I came in fourth in my age group (50/137 overall) at 1:38:44.

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