Several days ago, my neighbor across the street put up Christmas lights. There are rows of small bulbs arranged along the eaves and the three gables on the front of the house, with extensions out along the carport and the front porch, and up and over the chimney. They blink in sequence, like the lights on a movie marquee. It's like a little bit of Times Square brought to our placid backwater. The first couple of nights, the Mondrianesque spectacle made me feel a bit dizzy every time i went out at night, but tonight, with the rainstorm in full force, the sight is quite pleasant.
Smoke is curling from the chimney and drifting across the row of lights along the highest gable, and the flashing illuminates the rumpling mirror of rain-wet street, brighter and darker. When cars pass, their headlights reveal the raindrops themselves, frenetically bouncing on the shiny black asphalt, and great sprays of water flash red in the glow of the tailights. It all has a delightfully urbane look, and I can imagine myself walking through rains years ago, past the El Rey Theatre on Main Street in Alhambra. Ah, nostalgia.