When my brother and I were little, we would play in the mud puddles outside our house in Liberia. They were truly mud puddles, there, because the road we lived on was mud.
When it really rained hard, the ditch along the road down past the field in front of our house would flood deep enough that we could kick our feet off the ground and pretend to swim. It was supposed to flow away through a culvert* under the road, but sometimes it got backed up.
The water was brown-red with the dust of the earth it had picked up. It barely resembled water so much as thinned out mud, and yet we called it our swimming pool, we neighborhood kids, and we swam and waded and laughed in it until the evening summons.
I thought of the mud puddles in Liberia today because I caught myself deliberately wading, in my flipflops, through the mostly-clear puddles of Gone West. I was on the phone, walking in little circles so as not to stray too far from my computer that was on a table inside the tea shop, and I realized how familiar was the feeling of water flowing around on flipflops.
So then I swished through a few more puddles, for fun.
* Culvert is a word that I always liked the sound of. I remember rolling it around in my head when I was small. Culvert. Culvert.
We rarely call them by name here in the States, but in Liberia we did, and they were usually made of heavy corrugated metal. In severe rain, they would wash out and the dirt road over them would be swept away, and the whole thing would become a morass of mud and tire tracks and stuck vehicles.
The culvert on the road to school washed out once, and I remember picking our way around it through the creek where my brother and his friends used to go fishing.