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The Other Shoe Dropped

    Dear Bay Weekly:
    In May 2009 you published my Bay Reflection, “After the Strawberry Storm.”

    Every spring, usually in May, when we would get a strong storm with wind and plenty of rain, my great grandfather Johnny Burns would say, “Well, that was the strawberry storm. Now we can get on with spring.”
    Thirteen years ago, in May, my son was riding his bike on our property just hours after a torrential rain. He was eight years old and full of himself. He rode down a hill full speed straight into our pond, which was fed by an ancient stream that led to the Patuxent River. He was wearing his brand new Adidas sandals — I remember that they cost $19.99, far too much for beach sandals — but he really loved them.
    His bike, and his feet, got stuck in the muck of the pond bottom, churned up from the recent storm. He dragged his bike out, but the sandals were gone, forever encased in the bottom of the pond. We searched with the end of a rake and then gave up, hoping the sandals would surface in the coming days. They never did, and he was sad when they were replaced by cheap flip-flops from Walmart.
    On May 11, 2008 — Mother’ s Day — it started raining and it didn’t stop for over 24 hours. In Barstow, we had at least six inches. Our pond jumped its banks on both sides and went headlong down the streambed, which was crossed by little footbridges we had put in place over the last 14 years.
    My son, now a college student, had just returned home for the summer. My husband was walking the property, assessing whether we had any damage from the monsoon rain. I walked with him through the squishy field to the banks of the stream. There, sitting in the middle of one of the footbridges, was an Adidas sandal, child’s size seven, as if it had always been there.
    It was the perfect ending for the strawberry storm: To bring up something that had disappeared, supposedly never to be seen again, and remind me of a younger child, another storm and my great grandfather.

    On March 12 of this year, I was walking my dogs along the stream and spotted something sitting on the bank. It was the other sandal! It must have surfaced during the last torrential rain.
    We waited a while, but the sandals are now reunited. They are surely magical and will be kept for the next generation to wear.

–Kathi Hanna, Prince Frederick