After dinnertime, the end of rush hour means quiet streets as the golden sun dips low. Stockton‘s not home so I walk them myself. I leash up the terriers and stuff plastic bags into my cross-body bag. And we’re off.
We walk the streets of Mayberry slowly. I let them wander, their tails wagging. A man in an orange T-shirt jogs by. I smile, but like always I don’t know for sure if he looks our way.
Despite the sunset it’s still warm. The dogs investigate a spot where day lilies would be blooming if it wasn’t for the weeks of extended heat. At the corner, the dogs stand in the grass panting. Instead of going farther away, I decide to head home as if the third baseman coach of walkies has waved us through.
Ahead on the pavement I see a wet spot. I don’t hear the sound of traffic. I consider going into the lane to avoid the puddle because I’m certainly not walking the terriers or myself through it, but I decide I’ll go into my neighbor’s yard. Their gravel pull-off appears to be damp. Memories of washing the car on a summer afternoon fly back to me. The parking spot is empty, no shiny car to admire.
We are even with the puddle and that’s when I hear it. A swishy, rhythmic sputtering. All of a sudden moisture pelts the left side of my body. In this heat it feels good and I immediately smile, but I am wearing a pale T-shirt and I’m not going to stay too long at the party. Reflexively I say aloud to no one, “Oh the sprinklers!”
I hurry the dogs forward. They wiggle and shake off the surprise water break. The cool water dampened my cuffed jeans and they bunch at the knee with each step. Pausing at a honeysuckle bush, an impromptu breeze evaporates the remaining droplets. Behind us, I hear the sprinkler reset and change directions like a suburban tide. Thanks to the sprinkler, we cross into our yard with a little more vitality than when we left.