Stormy Weather

In lieu of standard flowers, I sent Janet this hibiscus plant for our anniversary. Now it sits pretty wet in Tuesdayʼs rainfall.

And after the great heat came the violent thunderstorms. Okay, not so violent as just thunderous and lightning-filled. The rain (so far this afternoon) hasnʼt even been bad. (I hope I don’t need to add a “yet” to that statement.) Right now, the electrical effects are dimmed a little as real rain is falling again, fairly gently.

the view westward as the rain fell Tuesday, 05/25/2010

I am writing yesterday (Tuesday) about four in the afternoon. Rain came and dumped on us, pretty suddenly, about noon, and since then the lightningʼs been crackling all around town and the thunder rumbling almost nonstop. And could today be more of a contrast with yesterday? The pictures I shot Monday were so bright, the perfect sunshine brilliance for that poem. And now, all dark since 10:00 a.m. Darker and darker since about noon. Monday was so sticky hot we really considered installing our window air conditioner (for the bedroom, to ease our sleep) as we donʼt have central air here. Today, the heat and humidity have fallen off as the day darkened and rained; I even put on my sweatshirt to sit and type (although itʼs probably too warm, really). Excess of light, now dullness and rain.

As an adolescent I found thunderstorms magnetic (fascinating, alluring). I recall sitting in our Mt. Pleasant driveway in the old ʼ56 Ford my father bought from necessity somewhere in Missouri when the VW van had broken down on him (and it kind of/sort of became my car for a while, much like the blue VW bug nicknamed Willie Faye that I drove until it dropped in its tracks) as thunder boomed and rain dropped so hard I couldnʼt see to our front door. Everything turned gray and vague but electrically alive. Wonderful experience (and so much better to be inside rather than exposed to that breathless, crushing downpour). I believe my attraction to the dark side of rain held well into my married years, until we were settled in this house. In fact, one of the poems I have posted so far came from watching rain fall unseasonably (in early February) across the night-blackened community; the experience just got all mixed up with the fall of Rome.

…so different from yesterdayʼs photos

Then one afternoon, I was driving home from visiting Janet at her travel agency office in the downtown bank lobby, as a storm descended on Maquoketa, pitching the world into a viscous darkness. Then the deluge opened, drowning the streets and foiling all efforts of my windshield wipers. I was driving west on Platt Street. The wind seemed suddenly to crescendo noisily, pushing hard against the truckʼs westward progress. Then leaves and twigs and other larger things started flying in my direction from above and down the street. Not so bad. Big wind, a natural part of a fun thunderstorm.

The wind pulsed suddenly, loud, drowning the radio chatter. For a few seconds things seemed brighter, even as more trash and ripped-away foliage cascaded like rain, just flying all directions except mine.

Then the tree came twisting and sliding over the street right at my face (it seemed). I was so stunned I just kept driving, maybe somewhat slower, and the huge rooty, branched trunk swept a little lower toward the street and passed me by in the coincidentally eastbound lane. The thing was as big as the pickup, and I just kept going, more concerned about what might be coming next than where the huge, uprooted hazard had gone (meaning I didnʼt even follow its wake in the side or rearview mirrors). Straight home as the wind scoured everything it could grab and propel, pulling into the garage and then diving into the basement: I was sure the tornado was right upon us.

This drenched canopy over our driveway was jut a sapling when the windborne tree attacked my truck.

It wasnʼt, although it might as well have done. The official weather word in the end was that Maquoketa had suffered not a tornado but violent horizontal wind bursts, reaching 70 mph and harder. There was damage all over town. I never heard what the careening tree did further east nor what happened to it. The experience did quell my adolescent lust for rainstorms.

…Now the thunder crackles and groans again. I should check the radar to see whatʼs heading our way (if anything) and from what direction. [I do so.] Lots of red on the radar map, possibly coming our way (from the south), but the animation seems to show it breaking up somewhat and driving more easterly now.

No complaints here, just a brush of description. Our weather (so far) has been mild, avoiding the brutal tornadoes whipping through the South recently. Weʼd like it to remain so (and spread to other areas as well).

I also enjoyed stepping out into the rain for the pictures decorating this post. I wish that I could have taken a photo of the camera, raindrop-coated just from the moment of shooting the hibiscus photo (at the top). I didnʼt venture out from just in front of the garage door, having wisely (actually accidentally) fetched in the mail and the sun tea (ironic, that) before the second set of (still continuing) rain fell.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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