“Attic Salt” column for Jan. 27, 2013

By ED CULLEN

Looking down from fourth-floor windows, I see something on the parking lot that I haven’t seen in days: The shadows of people walking up to the building.

The sun is back.

I remember a much longer time of grayness and rain years ago in south Louisiana, but this most recent spell of rain and gloom was long enough.

The day before the sun was predicted to return, I was at the dentist having a crown replaced.

My dentist seems a good craftsman, and the work went as quickly as this sort of thing can go. But there was a lot of grinding which made a shrill noise to go with the vibration in my jaw.

I needed to take my mind off the floor sanding going on in my mouth so I took a mental trip.

First, I called to mind where I was in the story I was writing before I left the paper to come to the dentist. The grinder screamed as I found my place in the story and began adding paragraphs until I’d finished the story. It would be a matter of transcription, memory to keyboard when I got back to the office.

The dentist continued grinding.

During the gray, sopping weather, I’d decided to make no important decisions until the sun returned. I placed titanium covers over the buttons people push to irritate me. The covers stayed on until the sun came out.

I tried to exercise during the rain and cold but without much success. Couch, blanket, books and movies were a more powerful draw. Weekends, any calories burned were through power dozing.

I stopped paying attention to news reports of how much rain had fallen in the last 24 hours. My rain gauge was full to the brim. That’s all I needed to know.

My mind continued to drift. The current of a Ray Bradbury short story pulled me along. The story is called “All Summer in a Day.” It’s a good story and I won’t ruin it for you, but I’ll tell you this. The story is on Venus where it has been raining not seven days or seven weeks but seven years.

Next up is the image of my newest planting of lettuce, arugula, parsley and cilantro, none of which has grown an inch in a month. Plants require sun to thrive.

The grinding is almost over, the dentist said through the sound of grinding.

I thought about a man I saw interviewed on television. The camera held the man and his flooded house in the same frame. The man said flooding is the price “river people” must pay to live and play on the river in the summer.

The unceasing rain made me feel as though I lived on a river. Mornings, I watched from the kitchen window as rainwater coursed down the swale between my house and my neighbor’s.

My reverie ended there as the dentist finished up. “That’s good,” he said. “See you in two weeks.”

The next morning, I drove to work in brilliant sunshine, my mood lifting with the turning of my truck’s wheels.