moves by just like a paper boat

It's been raining pretty steadily, very heavy at times, since yesterday afternoon. The weather service says we should expect this to continue for at least a week, but it could go on for up to two weeks.

I mention this because it hardly ever happens here, and if people weren't truly in danger from mudslides in the burn areas (including my parents, their entire neighborhood, and a lot of my friends) it would be incredibly amusing to watch the local media go apeshit on STORMWATCH!!1!1, upgrading 4 inches of water in a street to a torrential river of death and destruction.

Seriously. I am not making that up. I saw it on the news earlier this afternoon.

For about thirty minutes this morning, though, a bunch of kids from down the street didn't think of the rain as a destructive force, as much as a way to propel their paper boats downstream, while they "accidentally" stepped and jumped into the water.

While I watched them play, I remembered building and teaching my boys how to build little paper boats for days just like this one, stomping through puddles long after I was old enough to know better (like into my 20s), and dancing in the rain with my wife, just because she asked me to.

The storm seems to have slowed down for a minute in the time it's taken me to write this post. The sun is trying to push through the clouds, and if I look out the window, I can see patches of bright blue appearing to race across the sky toward the mountains. The water in the street has slowed to a trickle. It's the calm before the next storm, which is supposed to arrive within a couple of hours.

I think I'm going to go make a paper boat, so I'm ready to meet it when it gets here.

70 thoughts on “moves by just like a paper boat”

  1. On one hand, that’s a beautiful little piece, but on the other, I feel compelled to warn you that if your boat goes down into a storm drain where a mysterious voice waits for you: just let it go.
    Sorry, couldn’t resist the reference.
    Seriously, though, it’s always nice when you let us join you for these mometary bits of memories, or to walk along with you as your mind wanders.

  2. Wil, I do hope your parents and the rest of the folks in the burned areas don’t get hit with landslides. My fingers are crossed for them.
    I used to love to dance in the rain. I shouldn’t say dance, perhaps – more like spin wildly with my arms outstretched, while I laughed. I lived in Tucson then, and rain was a rarity. I haven’t done that in a long time, not since I got old and got a Serious Job and moved to Georgia where rain’s not really a Big Deal. As soon as we have our first warm rains, I’m going to do that. Thanks for making me think of it.
    And by the way, I am not going to stop emailing you about coming to speak at my University, at least until we hear from your manager/find out you’re too expensive. I think you’re really entertaining, but you’re also real and relatable for our creative writers and theatre majors, and I think the kids would get a lot out of it. Plus, you could combine it with a show in Atlanta? Dragon*Con is a fan-run volunteer con of 35K people, and I know you can never attend due to PAX, but Atlanta is a city FULL of geeks who’d love to pay to see you.

  3. I am absolutely loving this rain, I hope it does last for a little while longer, I’m not sure why but I find it a lot easier to create when it’s raining out.

  4. Being from Seattle I’ve jumped in my fair share of puddles joyously and still run out in the rain the minute I see it. We used to make hydroplane boats out of wood to drag behind our bikes on such a beautiful day! Thank you for sharing the love!

  5. Now why didn’t I think of paper boats when we had our flood. We are on flood watch again but that is not unusual at all where I live.
    What is unusual was it flooded in my neighbourhood as I live pretty much at the base of a mountain. The municipality had to come in and sandbag my backyard, the neighbour’s house and basement got flooded and they had to dig up my backyard and put in special drainage to prevent more houses from flooding. A lot of my community was put on evacuation alert. But again, this is something we are accustomed to.
    I hope you and yours and everyone in your area remains safe and unharmed.

  6. Is the title of the post a reference to the Nada Surf song “Paper Boat”? If so, I just discovered another reason to like you. If not, well, you’re still pretty safe.

  7. My boat it ready and awaiting our next rainstorm/floodwatch
    I made it out of heavy duty paper and it should last more than 10 minutes– here is to splashing / dancing/ and playing in the rain!

  8. Rivers (natural or artificial) are just made for Pooh Sticks:
    When my wife and I were dating, and I was still living at home in the UK rather than here in Hawaii, I took her to the bridge in Ashdown Forest so she could experience the fun:
    It’s one of my most recurring memories of childhood. Whenever I saw a stream I almost immediately started looking for sticks. Even now thinking about it there is one particular bridge in a forest barely a mile from my parents house that I probably haven’t played pooh sticks on for probably around 15-16 years that comes to mind so clearly, the mottled sunlight poking it’s way through the gaps in the leaves, the scent of crops growing in the farmers field just a little over the way, the rich and vibrant colours of the bluebells in spring that would cover the bank nearby, and the sounds of the stream as it gurgled and bubbled to itself around tree roots and stones and rich earth.

  9. Sometimes it does us good to release our inner kid. One can never be too old for paper boats….everytime I think of paper boats in the rain, for some reason I picture that scene from Stephen King’s IT. Sending my thoughts out for your parents!

  10. Oh, Wil…that’s just the loveliest thing I’ve read in a while. Where are the single guys in LA that can appreciate the joy of puddle jumping and paper boats? *sigh* Makes me feel so wistful…

  11. Heh, I guess you getting a bit of rain is like the UK getting a bit of snow like this year. Central Europeans like me shrug their shoulders at the panic an inch or two of snow creates here.
    Oddly, the paper boats down the drain thing seems to be an American thing, we never did this sort of thing in Germany. I do know how to fold a paper boat, though.
    Sometimes when we have a heatwave/dry spell I run outside in nothing but my underpants and just stand in the cool rain. If it wasn’t for the neighbours, I’d do it naked.

  12. Saw that film as a 12 year old, many years ago. I swear I will never feel comfortable around clowns for the rest of my life.
    Nor will I ever forget the sight of his face peering out from the drain. I’m just so glad the UK styles of drains aren’t the same as the US ones or I’d probably have had years of psychological trauma from it.

  13. Seriously funny about your rainy weather. In Austin, TX, we get an ice storm every winter and that always becomes(cue scary music)..DEATHSTORM WATCH.
    Countries at war, global warming, death and destruction everywhere yet all that could be found on the local news was “DEATHSTORM” and Longhorns lose.

  14. Paper boats? Looxury!
    When I were a boy we made our boats out of fallen eucalytups leaves – one as the hull, one stuck through it to stand up like a mast.

  15. Ewe-ca-lip-tus leaves? Looxury!
    When I were a boy Ewe-ca-lip-tus hadn’t bin invented yet, nor paper, rivers or streams.
    Or boats for that matter.
    We used to gob in the streets to make a puddle of saliva, then try to make a chunk of coal from t’mines float on it.

  16. I’m right there with you man!! Clowns weird me out like nothing else. Yes, when that face appeared out of the drain, that stuck with me, and still gives me chills to this day. There is also some urban legend about a man dressed as a clown hiding in someones house, in the attic or something. Even though that is probably just some story, the thought of that happening makes me cringe…..and also magnifies my clown phobia.
    If someone ever wants to get back at me for something, just lock me in a room full of clown dolls, or any doll with big eyes for that matter.

  17. When I was young, back in the little New Jersey farming community called Flatbrookville, my brother and I used to go out in the rain and pretend to be ducks. There wasn’t much to do in Flatbrookville.

  18. < !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
    Resist the temptation, Wil! Repeat after me: "He beats his fists against the posts, but still insists he sees the ghosts. HE BEATS HIS FISTS AGAINST THE POSTS, BUT STILL INSISTS HE SEES THE GHOSTS!!!

  19. and i’m officially scared to read this post. the title immediately made me think of pennywise the clown, hiding in a storm drain, waiting for some carefree little boy to come running by sailing his paper boat down a storm swollen street. . . .
    okay, i have to go hide under the covers now.
    *runs away screaming*

  20. I get the best of both worlds, snow and water-wise. In the winter, we can get snow so much that the plows have it as our road center lines…and you can’t see the cars on the other side. In the spring…the city streets turn into rivers. Had someone’s fence go floating by my husband’s work during the worst one.
    We didn’t do paper boats as kids. We took pieces of bark and stuck in a stick with some cloth in the middle for a sail. Had to work on our skills for the village-wide race during May-Days lol
    Dancing in the rain = classic fun.
    Best wishes out to those that are actually in danger from mudslides and/or flooding.

  21. I grew up in Toronto, then moved to Mobile AL where Storm Watch meant “Will the hurricane hit us or somewhere else?” After that, *any* melodramatic weather reports that don’t involve tornadoes, hurricanes or storm surges seem ridiculous to me. I live in New England now, and the degree to which they go apeshit about SNOW is laughable. I mean if you stand out in the falling snow do you feel like the apocalypse is coming?

  22. Wil, this post is just great. My new year’s resolution this year is to write a daily blog about beauty ( I’m using it as a way to get reacquainted with the wonders of the world around me. This blog post is a perfect example. Thanks for the inspiration.

  23. You were lucky to have saliva! We used to suck on gravel just to have enough spit to lick our hands clean after mucking out the stables of the mules that worked down in t’mine! Not to mention having to lick the motorway clean, from junction 1 to junction 19, including slipways.

  24. Great post. We had a HUGE snowstorm where I live a week or so ago. And, of course the city hadn’t budgeted for the cleanup. My street was quite fortunate. We didn’t need the city. We had two neighbor kids who apparently got 4-wheelers for Christmas. They had the mess worn down by the end of the day!

  25. And the last thing the boats is aware aware of before slipping into the blackness where everything floats is the plaque reminding our adventures of the quest goal of all goals….
    “Drains direct to the ocean”

  26. One of my favorite songs of all time. And that line is from my favorite part of the song. It makes me almost cry when I hear it for some reason. *sigh*
    Yep. You just jumped a couple more places on my heroes list. :)

  27. Mudslides: another reason not to move to LA. Man, it seems like everywhere I turn someone is trying to convince me not to move there. My favorite: the school system sucks (which is ironic, since I want to teach there; it’s why I want to move there in the first place!).

  28. Wil,
    Rain in southern California just does not sound right. It may be why according to alot of people that english is one of the hardest languages to learn. The language, to some, is very inconsistent. I hope everyone out there stays safe.

  29. Growing up in Tucson and now living in Phoenix, rain is always a big deal to me. It rarely rains enough for paper boats and I’ve never had the chance to make one. And while I wouldn’t call the weather today rain, more like mist with an occasional sprinkle, it was still nice to experience a “rainy day”. Glad you enjoyed yours too.

  30. I’m going to have to say something similar to someone else … If your running along after your paper boat and it goes down the storm drain DO NOT 1 – bend over to try and see where it went 2 – stick your arm in to try and grab it!!! Becuase big scary Ancient Clown Spider Monsters live down there!
    I am so glad we don’t have storm drains like US ones in the UK. Though we could probably use them once in awhile. I’ve been to the US. I have seen your storm drains. They freak me out.

  31. Wil, you are *never* too old to stomp in puddles!
    As for the dancing in the rain, your wife is a very lucky lady!
    Hope everything stays stable in your parents’ neighborhood. I’m really worried about the land burned in the Station fire.

  32. All the rain you are getting seems to be making all the way across to the East Coast as snow. It started yesterday we got a break, woke to it snowing again and then off and on until Thursday. We get a break for the day and it’s back for the weekend.

  33. Totally love that Nada Surf song (and the rest of the album it’s on). I think you’ve expressed its emotional tone fairly well in several ways with this post.

  34. Putting on my “dad” voice here:
    Fast-moving water can be very dangerous. It only takes a few inches of it to knock you off your feet and wash you away before you know what hit you. Please, keep kids away from creeks, streams, or even barely-flooded streets where the water is flowing fast. Don’t drive into water whose depth you are not absolutely sure of. And seriously, don’t try to reach into a storm drain to get something. It doesn’t take a scary clown to injure you in a situation like that. Flash flooding is no joke, so let’s all be careful out there.

  35. I wish I was in LA for this storm. Santa Cruz is getting hit fairly hard. Not too bad, but it’s the first year I’m living in the actual mountains, and being woken up by a flash of lightning and lots loud rumbles that could be thunder or could be trees/hillsides coming down on my house is a bit scary. Also, trying to drive to school when there are trees blocking the road? And not having power for two days? *grumble*
    However I’m totally gonna go make a paper boat during this break in the storm. And that will make everything alllll better!

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