We sit next to each other at the lab bench, each wearing gloves and holding tweezers. She sorts through the ziploc bags of soil, discarding any roots she finds, while I clean dirt out of cups of roots.
The rain crashes down around us, drowning out music and conversation. Flashes of lightning sear through the clouds overhead, but even the thunder cannot be heard over the pounding of the rain.
A dead leaf jumps, and transforms into a frog. Exquisitely crafted as a priceless miniature painting, it disappears.
From the wood ceiling, a small shadow falls and lands with a squishy sort of thunk. After a frozen moment, the brown gekko walks back over to the wall.
A black and white map, laminated so it can be written on fresh each week, that used to be full of brightly colored table numbers marking the locations of the different summer camps. As she shows it to us, she notes that the system has become obsolete: this year, with only one or two camps per week, we can choose our own sites. The black outline of trees and benches folds up and slides into the back of the filing folder.
A man leans against the back of his truck, his cigarette smoke blending into the mist rising off the asphalt.
A red model airplane flies in circles around a pole; two crows swerve at it from all sides, attempting to drive the intruder away.
This morning we stare in awe at the unremarkable leaves—medium green, normal shape, with a slight zig-zag on the edges—that we have walked past all year. Today they are decorated with raindrops, curling the water up into nearly perfect spheres—waxy cuticles. We are captivated by asymmetrical patterns, calling out discoveries as if the liquid sparkles were the gleam of priceless treasures. On one leaf a row of drops marches down the main vein, like bumps in a spine. From the edge of another glint three daredevil beads, only loosely holding on. Large drops dominate, draw the eye, and a misting of much smaller circles provides the vital afterthought for beautiful balance in these perfectly crafted paintings.
Among the dandelions and clover and tall wild grasses wave a few shorter blades of grass, crimped like the teeth of a zipper, tinged with gold in the sun.