The first floor in Thompson, the University’s Mathematics and Sciences building that forms one-half of the frame of a quadrangle with Harned Hall, is one of my favorite study locations, if only for the conference rooms that it offers. These conference rooms contain tables that, mimicking the macrostructure of the building, are arranged in outline of a rectangle, framing a vacant internal space. But that’s not important.
One night as we were studying, it began to rain. This was not out of the norm, being the Pacific Northwest. But it came down heavily, testing the glass windows, which was enough to grab our attention. I walked over to the windows and pulled the blinds. The ground of the quadrangle glistened with the spatter of the drops under the moon. Across from us, I could see other students gazing at the rain.
I took a chair facing the window and leaned back. Water streamed down Oppenheimer Café’s crag-like glass sides. The quadrangle itself glowed, though unlike anything I’d ever seen before; I couldn’t pinpoint it.
I asked my friends if I could turn off the lights.
I wasn’t wrong. The quadrangle was glowing, but not with the light given off by the buildings or by the light of the hidden moon. Not exactly. Rather, it glowed with light refracted through tiny globules of water. As light passed through the rain that had accumulated on the window-glass into the dark room in which we sat, the shadows of the room gave way to shifting spots of diluted light. Like sitting in a snow globe or in the middle of an aquarium. And I imagined it was snowing or that I was a fish.
A crow landed outside the window to escape the rain beneath an outcropping. It examined the dark room and the spotted glass that lined it. Looking closely at the droplets, it saw three figures in the room. Seeing that they were upside-down, it flew away.