Thursday, August 29, 2013

Storms like shows

Äquinoktium photo from flickr

So much changes in so little time

There is nothing quite like being jolted out of bed at four in the morning by a crack of lighting in your backyard. The thunder - which is strange to refer to as such because it happens simultaneously - is both piercing and blunt at the same time. So much energy happens so quickly, that it's only afterwards that you can begin to put it into words. In that single sizzling moment, most all that comes out of one's mouth is a "yelp!"

Given a sturdy roof to sleep under and a quick scan of the local weather forecast - maybe rushing around the house to close every window - it's back to bed until the sun comes up. And that's when you get to really settle in. Going back to bed for a few hours rest while listening to the gusting thunderstorm outside dump gallons worth of raindrops on the shingles above - few things are as cozy as this audible broadcast.

When I was a little kid we used to go outside on the front porch with a blanket. If it wasn't too late yet, my parents would let my sister and I sit on the bench swing hanging from the ceiling out there. We would wrap ourselves up in the blanket, pull our feet up inside it and watch the heavy rains come in. On the lookout for lightning, once we spotted it we'd count out on our fingers how long it took for the thunder to roll.

Of course our metrics were a little messed up at that age. I think we went back and forth between the number of fingers we counted were how many miles away the lightning struck, how fast the storm was traveling in miles per minute, or how much rain/how powerful the storm was with one being the highest. Oh the simple days…

*Note: This article is part III of a IV part series enveloping the four classical elements: firewaterearthair.

I still like to sit on the porch when the heavy doldrums of summer give way to fuming rain clouds filled with electricity. There's something about watching that much power that really puts things in perspective. Watching the trees bend in the wind, sticks and branches and leaves being ripped loose, birds all hanging on for dear life somewhere close to the ground. Flashes of light in the west where the sun should be setting but there only hangs low, dark, billowing clouds. Thunder rolling, clapping, cracking, growing closer all the time - louder and more terrible, shaking the ground and filling the air with concussions.

Then the rain comes in waves. Sheets of fat, thick water droplets propelled through the air at lateral angles start to physically attack tree trunks and buildings, zinging and dinging off every hard surface in their path. The water pools in some places as the ground is soon too saturated to absorb the assault. Trickles of water become wider, shaping themselves into drainage waterways and then into swiftly moving creeks where a short time before there was only dry land. 

The world below the storm is at the mercy of the sky and the forces of the atmosphere. Unseen currents whip up, pushing heat into the absence of, channeling collisions of opposing forces and conflicting interests that we'd be unaware of with vision only. The result is monstrous power. A shuddering strength and might that flesh and bones can hardly imagine, and it comes over us in a hurry, unannounced. If we're lucky, it passes just as quickly and spares us our ties to the ground: meager belongings, homes, our frail bodies, perhaps some livestock or a garden.

After a summer thunderstorm passes over it's really something to see the world again. It's almost like seeing it for the first time. There are branches and leaves where they shouldn't be; temporal ponds and creeks that'll last a day or two at most. So much change in so little time, so much power. It's like a performance, then - the show changes the characters involved.

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”
 - Epictetus

See you out there,
A woodsman in training.

Thrice personifies air in their song 'Silver Wings'

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