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Glories of the Storm
It begins when a feeling of stillness creeps into my consciousness. Every thing has suddenly gone quiet. Birds do not chirp. Leaves do not rustle. Insects do not sing.
The air that has been hot all day becomes heavy. It hangs over the trees, presses the heads of the flowers to the ground, sits on my shoulders. With a vague feeling of uneasiness I move to the window. There, in the west, lies the answer - cloud has piled on cloud to form a ridge of mammoth while towers, rearing against blue sky.
Their piercing whiteness is of brief duration. Soon the marshmallow rims flatten to anvil tops, and the clouds reveal their darker nature. They impose themselves before the late-afternoon sun, and the day darkens early. Then a gust of wind ships the dust along the road, chill warning of what is to come.
In the house a door shuts with a bang, curtains billow into the room. I rush to close the windows, empty the clothesline, secure the patio furnishings. Thunder begins to grumble in the distance.
The first drops of rain are huge. They splat into the dust and imprint the windows with individual signatures. They plink on the vent pipe and plunk on the patio roof. Leaves shudder under their weight before rebounding, and sidewalk wears a coat of shiny spots.
The rhythm accelerates; plink follows plunk faster and faster until the sound is a roll of drums and the individual drops become an army marching over fields and rooftops. Now the first bolt of lightning stabs the earth. It is heaven's exclamation point. The storm is here!
In spite of myself, I jump at the following crack of thunder. It rattles the windowpane and sends the dog scratching to get under the bed. The next bolt is even closer. It raises the hair on the back of my neck, and I take an involuntary step away from the window.
The rain now becomes a torrent, flung capriciously by rising wind. Together they batter the trees and level the grasses. Water streams off roofs and out of rain spouts. It pounds against the window in such a steady wash that I am sightless. There is only water. How can so much fall so fast? How could the clouds have supported this vast weight? How can the earth endure beneath it?
Pacing through the house from window to window, I am moved to openmouthed wonder. Look how the lilac bends under the assault, how the day lilies are flattened, how the hillside steps are a new made waterfall! Now hailstones thump upon the roof. They bounce white against the grass and splash into the puddle. I think of the vegetable garden, the fruit trees, the crops in the fields; but, thankfully, the hailstones are not enough in numbers or size to do real damage. Not this time.
From this storm is already beginning to pass. The tension is released from the atmosphere, the curtains of rain let in more light. The storm has spend most of its energy, and what is left will be expended on the countryside to the east.
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