★★★★★ White haze surrounded the sun. The forecast of showers—deferred so many days now—seemed plausible for the first time. The story-time room at the library, into which the children had stumbled, unwitting, was chilly with air conditioning but humid nonetheless. Conditions were more comfortable out in the slatted shade of the library garden, bordered by roses and planted with dark purple foliage. Toward midday, two age-thickened men contemplated their motorcycles. A gigantic insect, near hummingbird size, flew among the branches of a pine. Down at the shore, the air was perfect, the sun cut by clouds passing. The water too was ideal. Big swells dipped to reveal a white ship far off, then rose to obstruct the view of the ship, then rose even higher as the first obstruction passed and the trough descended. Gulls gathered just above the waves, clustering and stabbing at the water; pelicans flew by low. The whole surface was rimpled, the sides of the wavelets roughened by their own little disturbances. Off to the north, parallel lines of blurry gray stretched from inland out to sea, but the brightness remained nearby. Fine misty spray shone above the usual splashing. The ocean carried the body and absorbed the mind. One hundred fifty yards, nearly two hundred, slid away. The walk back to the beach chairs was so long it seemed as if some mistake must have been made. A sanderling, bone-white streaked with black, ran on the wetted sands. People had built sand castles and embankments, and the tide advanced on them. The two-year-old edged out onto the last of the dry sand, then agreed to try the foam. Minutes later he was dangling in the full frothing surf, suspended by his armpits, kicking and splashing in wild defiance of or identification with the rushing waters. He yelled at the sea, his shirt wet past the chest. Even the hike up the back of the beach, the usually hot and tedious expanse of sand, was comfortable. The sky grayed over, till sunset was nothing but a darkening. Wrens chattered with a harsh insectoid rattle at a cat in their shrubbery. The surf at dusk boomed like incipient thunderstorms. Deep in the night, the real thunder came, and white lightning.