We Begin And End In Rain

We rush to finish. It is the hottest day we have experienced in Yantai and we inch along on the tiling. Our goal is to finish by midday. If we do, this park will be the first of all Pacific Rim Parks completed before schedule, and we will go into downtown Yantai to celebrate.


As the hour nears it looks like we will run over. We have been moving a little more quickly, as the focus of all hands comes to tiling and finishing other detail work. We decide to take lunch in shifts, so we will not break the rhythm. We move in sync, placing occasional blue glass pebbles and white marble stones amongst the sand-colored granite tiles.


Just after lunch we reach the edge of our park. Only two or three square feet are still bare and in need of fresh cement and sparkling tiles. I pause and look at the sky, willing it to ease up on the heat and humidity. It looks like rain. The Chinese students have been telling me that there will be monsoons, but so far the only day of rain was our first day of construction — 16 days ago!


I look down at the beautiful spiral we are all working on diligently, and a drop of water hits the back of my neck. On cue, or by some instant manifestation, the rain begins. We are caught in a torrential downpour. We run frantically around, grabbing tools, cameras, and power cords. We try not to step on freshly laid floors, for fear the tiles will not stay set.


After all is rescued as best we can, we stand soaking wet in the small construction shed. Are the tiles too fresh? The rain too strong? Will our floor float away into the Pacific? However poetic this might be, we would prefer it not to happen, and we ask Garrett if we should be so concerned. He assures us that the puddling will make the tile bonds stronger, like our time together has also bonded us.


Twenty minutes pass and the storm ends as abruptly as it begin. It seems that the sky was overwhelmed by the beauty of our park, and had to weep tears to bring itself back to balance, so with twenty minutes left it cried. We decide that the rain is a sign that we must stop and enjoy the day together. We have very little time left anyway.


We hop on our bikes and ride home to shower and change. The streets are flooded with water so we dodge the splashes of cars and scooters speeding by. As we hydroplane home, we pass a pond full of lotus blossoms. Raindrops collected on floating leaves. The drops of water sparkle like the glass pebbles in our park, and everything feels complete.


We began in rain and we ended in rain, and in between we did everything we came to do — and more.